The title of this article should not be considered an oxymoron, but if it is to you, based on the preachers you know, then you have got a preacher problem.
Jesus charged men to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). No matter how you slice it, that is a big charge necessitating much work. The charge is not impossible for the first century Christians completed the task (Col. 1:6, 23). So, we may rest assured that it can be done. It certainly must follow that a lot of work will be involved if the Gospel is preached to the whole world.
Now, it must not be understood that our Lord’s commission was given only to preachers. Notice that the charge says to “teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19) which opens the opportunities to everyone—male and female. All can be soul winners for Jesus, but not all can preach (I Cor. 12:27-28; 14:34, I Tim. 2:11-15). Each individual Christian should be able to teach and influence a friend, neighbor or at least be willing to try. However, the preacher makes it his profession to proclaim the Gospel and so the heavier burden rests with him by his own choice (II Tim. 4:2; James 3:1). Thus, the preacher has his work cut out for him.
A preacher must have time to study and this is a most important part of his work (II Tim. 2:15). Studying is work (Ecc. 12:12); make no mistake about it. The inspired apostle Paul felt the great need of study (II Tim. 4:13). Most congregations understand this requirement of the job. In fact it has been my experience that here is where a problem arises in congregations. They expect the preacher to study, but sometimes find little evidence that he is studying. Perhaps the preacher may claim as one did that he studied people daily at the local donut shop. Or, it could be as a denominational friend related to me about his preacher: the preacher spends much time in study while at the local golf club. Do the above pictures sound familiar? I hope not, but sometimes preachers do in fact let themselves get sidetracked from the most important calling in all of the world. Elders and members should demand more of the preacher than allowing him to golf all week or simply run around town wasting time. I have talked with preachers (full-time preachers) whose first lines of conversation were about a great multi-level marketing plan in which they were involved. I wonder where their work, the Lord and His church rank with them? The early church went “everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). That is no doubt why the Gospel was preached to every creature in the first century.
Finally, a question for members of the body of Christ to consider: What is expected in the secular working world? When an individual is salaried in secular employment, he/she is expected to deliver. It goes without saying that the individual must keep office hours; most are expected to work nights when necessary and travel when needed. So why shouldn’t we expect the same of a Gospel preacher? Usually little if any time is allowed for golf outings during the work week, and having a reputation of being on the golf course everyday is unheard of in the secular working world but not always for the preacher. Paul said, “I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). Does that sound like a hard working preacher to you? Does that sound like the Gospel preachers you know?
We preach and teach that all should heed the teaching of the Lord to visit the sick and those in prison—and this is right. But sometimes preachers have said that they would not visit the hospital unless the elders and the church made a per mile allowance for the expenses incurred. Would this standard also apply to members? Is it wrong to pay the preacher mileage for his work including visiting? No, but it is still another matter when a preacher refuses to do his Christian duty based on pay or the lack thereof. It is quite likely that in an instance as cited above one could find members making less money than the preacher who, of their own free will and love for the Lord and members of His church, will be making many visits. What a shame to have the preacher, who should be setting the best example, wasting time quibbling over money! Paul admonished the Galatian church to “do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
May God bless the world with more hard working preachers. The twenty-first century world is going to need them.
-David Hill