The Preacher’s Calling

The Preacher’s Calling October 20, 2015

As I mentioned last Sunday, I’m away this week, preaching at a missions conference. I’ll be perfectly honest with you—my favorite place to preach is right here, Sunday after Sunday, to our church. But there is always one benefit I experience from preaching elsewhere from time to time. Outside preaching engagements force me to reflect again on what a preacher’s true calling is.

A Christian preacher is not a religious motivational speaker, reassuring people that they can do anything they put their minds to. He’s not a life coach, offering practical tips for balanced living. He’s not a mystical guru, dispensing spiritual truisms to put you in touch with your higher self.

The Christian preacher is a herald, a town crier, a newsie. The Greek verb “to preach” was originally a generic term for proclaiming or announcing. A “preacher” in the first century was not someone who hollered for 40 minutes at a religious gathering. He was a person with important news.

Practically, this means the Christian preacher does not speak for himself or make up his message. His job is simply to explain what God’s word means by what it says. The Apostle Peter puts it like this: “Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.” (1 Pt 4:11 NLT) Preparing sermons is not like preparing a speech. It’s not up to the preacher to decide what to say, gathering clever quotes and interesting stories along with a few helpful principles for life. Preachers who understand their calling are men who simply say God’s own words after Him.

And what is God’s own word to us? Not advice or recommendation or practical counsel. God’s word is not primarily about what we should do; it’s about what Jesus has done—namely, rescued us from wrath and opened the door to paradise. In short, God’s word is really good news! 

See, preaching the Bible is not correctly the sum of the preacher’s ministry. Preaching is the means, not the end. The end, or purpose, of all preaching is to explain and exult in the gospel. The preacher’s prayer is never “Lord, please help me to preach the Bible today,” but rather “Lord, please help me to preach the Bible today in such a way that people see and savor Jesus Christ in all His glory and sufficiency.” That’s my responsibility this week. Will you pray with me that it happens?