“What do you do when you’re not preaching?”
“It must be nice to work only one day a week.”
“I’d like to come and see you this afternoon. Since it’s not Sunday, I assume you’re free.”
“Do you have a job? Or just preach?”
“That was like a really good TED talk about Jesus!”
“Thanks for your message. The Lord healed me of my insomnia during your sermon.”
These and other equally humorous or outrageous and ill-informed statements have been made to me or other preachers. (In the comment section below, you preachers, can share the funny/strange things you’ve heard through the years).
While non-churched people may not understand the work, role, and responsibilities of a preacher, certainly Christians ought to view preachers and preaching from a Biblical perspective.
Who and what is a preacher?
The apostle Paul provides some insight in his letters to the young evangelist, Timothy. In 2Timothy 2, we learn of 7 descriptions and/or metaphors used to define a preacher’s work.
#1 An equipper (vs.1-2).
There’s no way a preacher can do all the teaching in a local church. Each Christian is responsible for his or her ministry. The preacher not only preaches and teaches, but along with his pastors, equips others to teach (Eph. 4:11-12).
Two questions to consider in equipping others is: (1) Are they faithful? (2) Do they have ability? One might be faithful but lack the ability. Or one may possess great talent, but not be faithful. Both are required.
Teacher training classes, leadership lessons, and preacher training programs are just a few ways preachers can equip others for ministry.
#2 A soldier (vs. 3-4; 8-13).
Paul often used military metaphors in his letters. It’s a vivid reminder that we’re engaged in a spiritual warfare. The devil is our arch enemy. We’re called into the Lord’s army to “fight the good fight of faith,” as we battle for people’s hearts. We’re combating ungodliness, immorality, indifference, and “every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2Cor. 11:5).
As good soldiers, preachers must be willing to endure hardship. Avoid worldly engagements. And trust, follow, and magnify our commanding officer, Jesus Christ.
#3 An athlete (V. 5).
Like a runner in a race, we must compete and contend for the prize. This requires spiritual exercise and training. It calls for dedication and commitment. And demands that we follow the rules of lawful competition as revealed in the Word of God.
#4 A farmer (vs. 6-7).
Farming is hard work. Farmers plow the field, cultivate the soil, sow the seed, fertilize and water the crop, and then wait for the harvest. It’s a perfect analogy pertaining to preachers who sow the seed of God’s Word.
We must remember that we reap what we sow. That we reap more than we sow. And we reap later than we sow. This requires patience. Faith. And trust in the Lord of the harvest for the seed to germinate and produce fruit in the hearts of the hearers.
#5 A workman (vs. 14-18).
The preacher is a workman in the Word. He’s diligent. Zealous. And properly applies his abilities, sets his priorities and manages his time for Bible study, meditation, and spiritual reflection. As a spiritual worker, he shuns “godless chatter,” avoids fruitless arguments, and opposes dangerous doctrines. He knows the tools of his trade and “correctly handles the word of Truth,” standing firm on God’s solid foundation. Thus, this preacher will work unashamedly and receive God’s approval.
#6 A vessel (vs. 19-22).
The House of God, which is the church of God, contains many vessels for various uses. The preacher is not the house. And certainly not the foundation. He’s simply a vessel. To be used. He must not be defiled or desecrated. But purged of sin’s pollution and cleansed of carnal contamination. Then he will be a vessel of honor. Sanctified and set apart for the Master’s use.
#7 A servant (vs. 23-26).
The word here is doulos. It means a servant in relation to his Master. Preachers belong to Christ. They’re a slave of the Lord. Owned by Him. Work for Him. And seek to please Him.
Paul put it this way. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
Preachers soon learn that you can’t please everyone. Not even everyone in the church. But you can work to please Him whom you serve.
All of this involves teaching publicly and from house to house. Edifying, exhorting, and encouraging the saints. Seeking to convert sinners. Reading, writing and proclaiming the gospel at every opportunity. Being an example to the believers. Answering questions. Offering spiritual counsel. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Rebuking sin. Doing the work of an evangelist. Partnering with the pastors. Being available 24/7. And going wherever the Lord leads.
To rephrase John R. W. Stott, The secret of preaching is not mastering certain techniques, portraying a polished professionalism, or presenting an oratorical masterpiece. But being mastered by scriptural convictions, developing a disciple’s character, and being molded by the Master.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman