While strolling among my books, I suddenly got the idea of asking some of the master preachers for counsel that would help me become a better preacher of God’s Word. They were ready and eager!
“To set one’s heart on being popular is fatal to the preacher’s best growth,” said Phillips Brooks. “It is the worst and feeblest part of your congregation that makes itself heard in vociferous applause, and it applauds that in you which pleases it. …To be your own best self for your people’s sake-that is the true law of the minister’s devotion.”
“Let your own personality, with its distinct point of view and its distinct characteristics, have its natural elbow-room,” said James Black. “Borrowed beliefs have no power.”
“Preaching . . . is a transaction between the preacher and the listener,” added Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “It does something for the soul of man, for the whole of the person, the entire man; it deals with him in a vital and radical manner. . . . What is the chief end of preaching? It is to give to men and women a sense of God and His presence.”
So far, so good. But others on my shelves are asking for their turn to share. Yes, Dr. John Henry Jowett?
“If we lose the sense of the wonder of our commission, we shall become like common traders in a common market, babbling about common wares. . . . This sense of great personal surprise in the glory of our vocation, while it will keep us humble, will also make us great. It will save us from becoming small officials in transient enterprises. It will make us truly big, and will, therefore, save us from spending our days in trifling.”
A good word, Dr. Jowett. I see that one of your predecessors, Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, has something to share with us. Dr. Morgan.
“I think we are making a great mistake in much of our thinking and training when we imagine that every Christian minister ought to be somewhat of a prophet, somewhat of an evangelist and teacher. I believe that today in the Christian Church these gifts are entirely distinct. But preaching is the vocation of all of them. . . . The supreme work of the Christian minister is the work of preaching.”
Thank you, Dr. Morgan. Could you, before you go, give us your personal definition of preaching?
“Preaching is the declaration of the grace of God to human need on the authority of the Throne of God; and it demands on the part of those who hear that they show obedience to the thing declared.”
I notice the “father” of American homiletical teaching anxious to say something. Dr. John A. Broadus, the floor is yours.
“After all our preparation, general and special, for the conduct of public worship and for preaching, our dependence for real success is on the Spirit of God. And where one preaches the Gospel, in reliance on God’s blessing, he never preaches in vain.”
“Nor must we forget the power of character and life to reinforce speech. What a preacher is, goes far to determine the effect of what he says. There is a medieval proverb, ‘If a man’s life be lightning, his words are thunders.'”
Dr. A. J. Gossip has a word for us. “If you are not to drift into unconscious hypocrisy, or at least into using great words with little meaning, always a dangerous thing, live close to Jesus Christ.
“The mass of trouble in a congregation is quite unbelievable. And they come up to church, looking to you to help them, hoping for some word that will bring them through.”
Sorry, gentlemen, but our time is just about up. Oh, I’m very sorry, Mr. Spurgeon! I didn’t see you get off the shelf. We’ll give you the privilege of having the last word.
“We believe in waiting, weeping, and agonizing; we believe in a non-success which prepares us for doing greater and higher work, for which we should not have been fitted unless anguish had sharpened our soul.
“I thank God that I can say this–there is no member of my church, no officer of the church, and no man in the world, to whom I am afraid to say before his face what I would say behind his back. Under God, I owe my position in my own church to the absence of all policy, and the habit of always saying what I mean. The plan of making things pleasant all round is a perilous as well as a wicked one.”
“I preach-I dare to say it-because I can do no otherwise; I cannot refrain myself; a fire burns within my bones which will consume me if I hold my peace.”
“Preach the gospel very decidedly and firmly, no matter what people may say of you, and God will be with you.”
Lights out! Good night, brethren!
©2002 WWW Used by permission. This article is copyrighted by the author and is for your individual use. Reproduction for any other purpose is governed by copyright laws and is strictly prohibited. This material originally appeared in Prokope, January-February 1988
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).