I am going to be a little more vulnerable and transparent in this post. I’ve decided to share a list I wrote last May as a challenge to myself to become a great preacher. First, let me head off any potential misunderstandings. I’m not using “great” in sense of comparison to others, but in the sense of being the best preacher I (or you) can be. If I were going to be a musician, then I would aspire to be as great a musician as I could be. This would be true of any other profession. As Christians, I hope that we are trying to be the best we can be at whatever we do for the glory of God. So, why should ministers/preachers aspire to be less than great just for the pretense of false humility?! If you are going to be a preacher, then be great at it!
Also, this list was written in the same spirit as a journal. Many of the items on the list are areas in which I struggle. So, your own list would inevitably be different. If you are a preacher, feel free to add what’s important to you in the comments that perhaps I overlooked. If you are not a preacher, feel free to share what is most valuable for you concerning the ministers/pastors in your life. I’ve been getting a lot of views on this blog. I’m thankful for that, but I would also really like to start getting some feedback, especially for a post like this one.
I divided my list into three sections. The first concerns the great preacher’s personal spiritual habits and the second concerns the ministerial habits of a great preacher. The final section involves the domestic practices (i.e. home life) of a great preacher. There are a lot of different ways you could do this, but, as I mentioned above, this is me seeking to challenge myself. I’m so very far from being the great preacher I envisioned in this list. So, without further ado, here’s the list.
A great preacher…
- Does not care about being great compared to others, but is unashamed to be his best for God.
- Knows he is dependent upon God for any success/victory in his ministry and demonstrates this dependence through a robust prayer life. He likewise understands that failure does not mean God has forsaken him, but is always at work through all experiences of ministry.
- Does what he can to make sure he is in the Word personally daily.
- Has a regular, if not slavish, devotion to other disciplines of fasting, meditation, and solitude.
- Makes time, at least, annually for a personal retreat to facilitate spiritual thinking for planning.
- Enjoys the benefits of annual lectureships to be inspired and plugged into the wider fellowship.
- Prays with his wife, if not daily, at least weekly in intentional prayer (i.e. not regular meal time).
- Makes himself accountable to at least one other man in regard to some of the matters above.
- Is willing to fight to keep his “first love” always first, even if that means stepping away from ministry.
- Does not waste time “easing” into the morning, but reaches his office as early as reasonable, so that prayer, reading, and planning are not neglected.
- Reads the Bible first, but is always reading another book to encourage, stimulate, teach, etc. the preacher’s mind.
- Schedules ahead of time any events or planning that is needed with other folks and does not let poor planning become an excuse not to delegate and share ministry.
- Has a clear understanding of his preaching priorities, and though remaining flexible, has reasonable boundaries to protect those priorities, even if some may not understand this.
- Understands the rhythm and flow of his week, so that “cramming” preparation at the end of the week is avoided, but also believes in God’s provision enough to know that God will make sure the minister can handle the unexpected.
- Does not let personal conflict fester, but lovingly and openly addresses issues with whomever is involved.
- Does not hide from his elders, but devotes himself to transparent communication with them and allows them their shepherding role in his life.
- Loves the people to whom God has called him to minister and joyfully invests in their lives and concerns.
- Solicits appropriate feedback from trusted individuals, including those who think differently, regarding direction of ministry and relevancy of preaching.
- Preaches not to a crowd, but to individuals on Sundays. Keeps real needs before him, as he prepares expository sermons.
- Leaves little room for the doubt that the Bible class or sermon was the preacher’s best work, both in preparation and delivery.
- Preaches with the aim of making disciples and is unashamed and unapologetic of the gravity of the call to follow Jesus. Practically applies this through equipping others and challenging them to grow (see #3).
- Social media and technology are his tools, but not his master.
- His family knows that they are not sacrificed on the altar of ministry, but his first priority in ministry.
- The family experiences his love for prayer and God’s word away from church work.
- He takes his vacations, makes his date nights, and does not miss his kid’s games, plays, etc.
- The family does not hear him talk negatively about the church or individuals from the church. If sensitive matters need to be discussed, the husband and wife discuss them out of the presence of the kids.
- Does not use the excuse of having a spiritual “job” as a reason to spiritually abdicate at home. He participates in controlling the amount of television and other electronic stimuli used in the house and seeks for spiritual activities in the home and outside the home.
- Is a good neighbor who is not forceful with his views around others, but is never ashamed to speak the name of Jesus when given opportunity.
- Reads books that are not directly related to theology for the purpose of rest, enjoyment, and unexpected sources of imagination/inspiration.
- Achieves a balance, as far as possible, so that the family has rest (Sabbath) and also joyfully participates in the ministry of the church and the community.