Tag Archives: preachers

Lessons We Preachers and Christian Bloggers Need To Learn From 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians is a book every preacher and teacher needs to read at least once a quarter.  It is interesting to see how God inspired Paul to both encourage and rebuke the church at Corinth in a balanced way.  Paul would acknowledge and show appreciation for the good the Corinthians were doing, continually state and affirm the great love he and God have for them and the love they have for each other, while also repeatedly bringing up in very blunt and sometimes sarcastic ways their shortcomings while admonishing them to repent.

There’s a lesson in this for us, preachers.  Spiritually building up and edifying fellow Christians to help them become closer to God and overcome sin in their life requires more than telling them what they need to work on.  It equally requires open acknowledgment and appreciation of what we are doing right, and encouragement to keep it up.  I encourage my fellow preachers and teachers in the church, especially those of us who regularly post religious articles on social media, to remember that.  As someone who regularly reads the writings of my fellow Christians, I am struck by the higher ratio of critical articles of brethren and the church there are versus the number of articles which openly thank brethren and the church for the good they do and acknowledge it.  Yes, the articles which bring out what Christians and the church need to do better are more times than not correct and they are sure to get numerous “likes” and comments like “Amen!” and “Preach it, brother!”  However, after a while of being regularly saturated with articles that repeatedly say, “We have this problem”, “We’re not doing what we need to here in this area”, and “We could do better here”, a lot of us will get discouraged and begin to wonder if we can do anything right in the sight of God (or the preacher or teacher who regularly blogs and preaches these messages).

Consider the following examples from Paul and his second inspired letter to Corinth:

  1. He starts by openly wishing upon them grace and peace from God and Christ (1:2).  My fellow preaching and teaching bloggers, how often in our writings to Christians do we openly wish God’s grace and peace upon them, even while we “let them have it”?  I know this is something I need to work on.
  2. He then gives them a very uplifting message about comfort (1:3-5).  He also informs them that they are the reason he and his fellow apostles suffer (1:6) and that his hope in them is unshaken (1:7), before requesting their prayers (1:11).  A stark contrast from sermons and articles I and others have written which simply say to Christians, “Shape up!” without also comforting them and telling them, “I care so much about you, and here’s what I’m willing to do to show it.  I hope in you.  I believe in you, so much so that I’m asking you to pray for me.”
  3. Paul then speaks bluntly to them about their need to forgive the penitent among them (1:23-2:11).  Yet, even while doing so he goes out of his way to tell them that he didn’t think he was better than them (1:24a), acknowledge that they stand firm in their faith (1:24b), inform them that it tore him up to have to rebuke them (2:4a), and make sure they knew that he didn’t want to hurt them because he loved them very much (2:4b).  Again, we preachers can learn from this.  Rebuking people requires more than telling them to repent while specifying their errors.  It also requires telling them that you love them while acknowledging what they are doing right.
  4. Even while defending himself and his companions from the accusation of being “peddlers of God’s word” (2:12-3:1), he tells the Corinthians that their walk with Christ is such that he could use them as a “letter of recommendation” (3:2-3).  What a great example for us, brethren!
  5. Paul then speaks positively about the terrible ordeals he and his companions went through rather than complaining about it (4:8-11) before informing the Christians at Corinth that he willingly went through these trials for their sake (4:12-15).  Preachers, let’s be honest.  We tend to complain to each other about the problems brought upon us due to preaching the gospel, problems which are quite small when compared to Paul’s (see 11:23-27).  Why not speak of how God upholds us even in the midst of our sufferings as Paul did, before informing the church that we would go through it all over again if it would help just one soul in that congregation get closer to God?
  6. Notice how Paul says to the church, “We IMPLORE you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (5:20b) and “we APPEAL to you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (6:1).  Preachers and fellow teachers and bloggers, let’s try IMPLORING brethren to repent and APPEALING to them rather than beating them up over the head about it.  Pleading rather than lecturing might produce better results.
  7. Before admonishing them to be different from unbelievers rather than unequally yoking themselves to them (6:14-7:1), notice how Paul went out of his way to tell these Christians that his heart was wide open for them while encouraging them to widen their hearts also (6:11-13).  Notice also that while he ends his admonishment for them to cleanse themselves from defilement, he calls them “beloved” (7:1) and urges them again, “Make room in your hearts for us” (7:2a).  Parents who effectively discipline their children know that their children need to be reminded of their love for them both before and after the spanking.  In like manner, Christians need to know how much we care for them and love them while we rebuke them from the pulpit, in articles, and face to face.
  8. Paul then acknowledged that his previous letter brought them grief which led them to repent (7:8-10).  He then went out of his way to let them know that they were doing a great job repenting (7:11), and that their repentance and subsequent encouraging of Titus comforted Paul and his companions (7:13).  Notice how Paul told them that he had been boasting about them, and that their actions proved his boasts to be well-founded (7:14).  See how he told them that Titus’ affection for them was growing and that Titus remembered how obedient they were (7:15).  Paul then told them about his joy over them and that he had “perfect confidence” in them (7:16).  This is the same church 1 Corinthians was written to, remember.  These are the same people who were very divided, suing each other over trivial matters, openly and arrogantly tolerating extreme fornication among them, arguing over where their brethren bought meat, defiling the Lord’s Supper, childishly wanting the “cool” spiritual gifts rather than the ones most profitable for helping the church grow, and even denying that there would be a resurrection of the dead on Judgment Day…and yet look how Paul is speaking positively of them here.  My fellow preachers, the church in America overall has a lot of problems…but she has a lot of good in her too.  We can take a page from Paul’s book here and acknowledge that.  It might just help our brethren to become better.
  9. While talking up the Macedonian brethren, Paul told Corinth – Corinth, of all people! – that they “excel in everything” while encouraging them to excel in their giving also (8:7).  He then acknowledged that they had in fact excelled in helping their needy brethren and others before urging them to keep it up (8:10-11) and thus prove to others that Paul was right to boast about them (8:24).  He then acknowledged their readiness to participate in this good work and informed them that he was boasting about them to others, who in turn were inspired by them (9:2), all before exhorting them to be ready to give more and give in the right way (9:3-11).  He then told them about how others were glorifying God because of their generosity (9:12-15).  What a great example for us in how to stir up brethren to get more involved in church work!
  10. Take note of how Paul, even while defending himself against his detractors at Corinth, again “entreated” and “begged” Corinth to repent (10:1-2).  Notice also how even in the midst of his sarcastic rebuke of them recorded all throughout chapters 10 through 12, he talks of his hope that their faith would increase (10:15), his fear that Satan would lead them astray (11:3), his love for them (11:11), and his anxiety for them and all other churches (11:28), before informing them that he would “most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (12:15a) that it was “all for your upbuilding, beloved” (12:19b), that he was praying for them (13:7, 9), and that they were more important than him (13:9).  He then ended his letter to them in a very positive note (13:11-14).  What a great example of balance that shows us how to rebuke with love and encourage even while admonishing!

Preachers, teachers, and fellow religious bloggers, we can definitely learn from this.  I know I can.  The brethren need more from us than constant rebukes.  They need expressed love, comfort, concern, and encouragement.  We need to brag on them even though they’re not perfect.  Guess what?  We’re not either.  We need to truly love them, and God shows us how to do so in 2 Corinthians.  May we all work harder to preach the Word like Paul!

Proclaiming God’s truth is a blessing, and those of us who proclaim it from the pulpit and through our writings have the highest privilege bestowed to man other than being a child of God and approaching his throne in prayer. Men of God, thank you for the hard work you put in for the kingdom. I love each of you and keep you in my prayers. We are all imperfect beings made complete by his Son’s blood. Let’s keep striving to do what is right. God bless you for the work you do, preachers.

Preachers, Listen Up…

This article is aimed primarily at those folks in the church who are referred to by themselves and others as preachers.  In other words, the men who are financially supported by a local congregation(s) to give either some or all of their professional lives and careers to the ministry of preaching and evangelism.

It’s ironic that this article is written for this particular group of brethren in the church, considering that:

  1. A biblical case could be made that God wants all Christians to be preachers in some form or fashion (1 Pet. 2:9).  (That’s a whole different subject, though…)
  2. The topic of this article applies in some ways to all Christians, regardless of their job or title in the church.

What is the topic of this article?  It can rather nicely summed up in something that Jesus said to the Pharisees on one occasion.

These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (Matt. 23:23b)

The topic of this article is something that most if not all preachers struggle with:  balance.  Having balance in one’s life so that one gives adequate amount of attention and work to ALL of one’s responsibilities.

Preachers, what is your job description?  Now, before you go hunt up your contract so you can see all the bullet points under “Job Description,” let me clarify.  BIBLICALLY, what is your job description?  What job description does GOD give to you?

Is it to mow the grass at the church building and fix the leak in the baptistry?

Is it to be the 24/7 on-call “catch-all” for the member’s problems, complaints, and concerns?

Is it to be the church’s sole “representative” at the hospital for all emergencies and sicknesses?

Is it to “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”?  (2 Tim. 4:2)

Is it to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”?  (1 Tim. 4:12)

Is it to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”?  (Eph. 4:11-12)

And for those preachers who are married and who are fathers…

Is it to “LIVE WITH YOUR WIVES in an understanding way”?  (1 Pet. 3:7)

Is it to “bring (your children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”?  (Eph. 6:4)

I think you know where I’m going with this…

We have a problem in the church.  That problem is manifested when a member of the body of the Lord, the church for which he died, tells the preacher whom his contribution goes to financially support, “Bringing the gospel to the lost, visiting the sick, building up the brethren, growing in knowledge of the Bible, being a good example, bearing other’s burdens, taking part in the work of the church…all of those things are YOUR responsibility, not MINE, because that’s what I PAY you to do!”

A few members have actually verbalized this to preachers.  However, many more say it in different ways, through their actions.

Like when the preacher is the only one called or expected to be at the hospital for any and all emergencies…even though the Bible says that elders are the ones Christians are to call when they are sick (James 5:14).  Oh, let’s also not forget the fact that Jesus spoke of ALL CHRISTIANS visiting the sick and afflicted…as a PREREQUISITE OF GOING TO HEAVEN, NO LESS (Matt. 25:31-46).

Like when the preacher is the only one contacted when there is counseling about sin that needs to take place…even though the elders of the church are the ones cited by God to be the shepherds who are watching over the souls of the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; Heb. 13:17).  They would be the ones to whom Christians would primarily need to turn about their sin, because they are those Christian’s shepherds/pastors…not the preacher.

I could give more examples, but you get the picture.  Preachers, this is a serious matter.  Christians who do not wear the title of preacher, this is a serious matter.  Here’s why…

As shown above, God wants preachers to primarily preach the Word and always be ready to do so.  That requires lots of study of God’s Word.  That also requires lots of time every week to put in to sermon prep, Bible class prep, and one-on-one Bible study prep.  That also requires going out into the community to look for opportunities to bring the gospel to the lost.  All of this requires time.  Time which the preacher has less and less of when he runs here and there being the primary go-to guy for every church crisis and responsibility that comes along.  So that means that his sermons and Bible classes will suffer in quality from lack of enough preparation and he will not be finding as many lost souls to reach with the gospel as he should.  But preachers know this, and don’t want that to happen because they love preaching and love souls so much.  So they’ll go the extra mile if they’re worth anything.  However, what THAT means is that something else is put on the backburner…namely, their families.  More on that in a second…

First, here’s another reason.  As shown above, God also wants preachers to set a good example to their fellow Christians.  That means that the preacher will in fact visit people in the hospitals and be involved in various works of the church…but not because he’s the preacher.  Not because he’s the church’s “representative” in the ER.  No, because he’s a Christian, and as a preacher he’s to set the example for other Christians TO FOLLOW.  Notice that last part, Christians.  “TO FOLLOW.”  Church-goers, pew-warmers, examples are there for you TO FOLLOW.  In other words, get thee to the hospital thyself…if you want to go to heaven, that is.  If you do, then get there before the preacher does or meet the preacher going out as you’re coming in.  If there’s a vigil in the waiting room, be there with him.  Follow his example in growing in Bible knowledge.  Follow his example in bringing people to Christ.  Follow his example by being involved in the work of the church.

With that in mind, consider this.  As shown above, God wants preachers to join with pastors (elders) and teachers in using the inspired writings of the apostles and prophets in the New Testament to equip the saints for the work of ministry.  In other words, preachers, elders, and teachers (a biblical case could be made for deacons also – 1 Tim. 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-6) are to get every member of the church involved in the work of serving the church.  That’s how you build up the church.  Preachers, do you want your church to grow?  Christians, do you want your church to grow?  Wonder why it’s not happening like you want it to happen?  Maybe it’s because preachers are taking on too much of the work themselves while too many members of the church are being pew-warmers instead of hard workers.  Never mind that the biblical formula for church growth is spelled out rather clearly: 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Eph. 4:15-16)

In other words, church, every single one of us…not just the preacher or even primarily the preacher…must do our part.  All of us must grow in every way to become like Christ.  All of us – the whole body, the entire church, every single member – must work properly.  That’s how the church grows.  IT…the church…builds itself up, not the preacher.  The preacher just equips the church to do so (and he’s not the only one who does that, either.  Elders, deacons, Bible class teachers…pay attention.)

When that doesn’t happen, preachers…more specifically, when you ALLOW it to not happen because you decide to allow yourself to be the go-to guy for absolutely everything church-related…you and your family suffer.  Here’s what I’m talking about…

Ever hear about the stereotypical “P.K.” (Preacher’s Kid)?  You know, about how your typical P.K. is a real terror, a wild cannon, a real “prodigal son”?  Well, setting aside the fact that lots of P.K.’s are fine Christians not deserving of that stereotype, let’s concede that there are some P.K.’s out there who are some real horror stories.

Oh, and what about the stories we’ve all heard about the preacher who has an affair, usually with a woman he’s counseling?  Or the stories of the preacher’s wife who gives into the temptations and flirtations of that nice man she works with and starts an affair with him?  Or how the marriages of some preachers dissolve into divorce regardless of whether adultery was involved?

Granted, who knows all of the factors that lead into these sad states of affairs?  However, more times than not there’s one factor that keeps on popping up in each of these scenarios, preachers.  One underlying reason behind the prodigal P.K.’s, the affairs with the sisters in the church, the unfaithfulness of wives, and the breaking up of marriages.  You know what it is.

The preacher allowed himself to spend too much time away from his family by spending too much time in the work of the church.  He took on too much responsibility at church, some of it biblically legitimate but more of it illegitimate due to trying to please everyone, and so he wasn’t there to “live with his wife” and “bring his children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” as God wanted him to.  He tried to save the world and help the church all by himself and lost his family in the process…and by doing so he ended up hurting the church and not doing a thing to save the world anyway, because saving the world is not his job (it’s God’s) and helping the church is something that he can’t do by himself (God doesn’t want him to do by himself anyway).

This brings us back to the necessity of balance, preachers.  You have to have balance.  You have to realize that God wants you to be a family man in addition to a preacher.  You have to realize that even as a preacher God wants you to not do it all by yourself, but rather set the example and equip others in the church to join in the work themselves.

So you have to balance your time and your priorities.

You have to decide that every day you are going to spend time…QUALITY TIME…with your family, being the spiritual leader in the home.

You have to decide that on most days you’re going to spend time…QUALITY TIME…in the Word and prayer as you prepare lessons and sermons, and other time…QUALITY TIME…in looking for lost souls to teach.

You have to decide that you’re going to take at least one day per week to spend time…QUALITY TIME…in relaxation and recreation with your family, your friends, and even by yourself at times.  Why?  The purpose of “recreation” is to “re-create,” i.e., re-charge.  Before you go off talking about how that’s a waste of time and lazy, remember that Jesus did it (Mark 6:30-32) and the Bible teaches that there is a time for everything (Eccl. 3:1ff).  God knows better than you.  Don’t burn out.  Take some time to re-charge.

You have to decide that you’re going to set aside some time per month…QUALITY TIME…in setting the proper example to Christians by not only visiting the sick and being involved in various church works, but more importantly equipping other saints to join you in those same works for their spiritual benefit and yours, and so that the church will grow as it should.

Balance.  That’s the key, preachers.  You have to have balance.  Examine yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5), and re-arrange what needs to be re-arranged.  Let go of what you’re doing that isn’t BIBLICALLY required, and put more focus onto what God DOES require of you.

It’s a constant challenge, but it’s a challenge worth taking on.  Your soul is worth it.  Your family’s souls are worth it.  The souls of the brethren are worth it.  The souls of the lost are worth it.  The church for which Jesus died is worth it.

What did you say, Jesus?

These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (Matt. 23:23b)

Print that out and put it where you can see it everyday, preachers.

3 Of The Best Things You Can Do For Your Preacher

3 Of The Best Things You Can Do For Your Preacher

A great article about the relationship between members of the church and their preacher.  Remember, folks.  Preachers are human, just like you.  All of the needs, fears, stresses, and worries that you have, they have.  They need encouragement and support just like you.