If you were to ask any number of people what a minister was, you would probably receive an equal number of different answers. When confronted with this question we all struggle with what we want ministers to be as opposed to what they are called to be from the definition of Holy Scripture.
Modern ministers are often expected to be positive motivational speakers who give precise sermonettes, padded with enough tolerance and affability to allow everyone to go home happy even if that means being content with being lost. In some congregations, he is expected to give every innovative idea that can help a congregation grow and then to be the sole workforce to see the work through. This allows the congregation to blame him when failures in evangelism or even general congregational morale seem to pop up. He might be expected to be an administrator. They are often responsible to monitor their fellow staff members more like a supervisor than a loving and thoughtful fellow worker. He might be the chief organizer, clerical worker, counselor, officiator, baptizer, comforter of all ills, committee chairman, author of all things written, and mediator between elders and disgruntled members.
He is expected to be popular with all people since he is the front man for every effort outside the building. Sometimes the minister’s property, such as vehicles and homes, becomes Church property for any number of errands or Church efforts they might have to participate in without question on behalf of the Church each day. Occasionally, they do everything no one else wants to do because they are not given the option of decline. Though they are members, they often have none of the luxuries of self-determination or fair consideration.
Members have been known to say things like, “preaching is not work” or “you get paid plenty for the work you do.” Preachers who work hard tire of remarks like these and on occasion have suffered from a loss of composure when fatigued or irritated by ill thought out statements from inconsiderate people.
The good thing is that preachers are not defined by people who want a specific kind of man. They are not defined by the desires of society or politics or culture. Real men of God are defined directly from the pages of Holy Scripture. The most important question as to the definition of a Gospel preacher is, “What does God expect?”
First, the preacher must see himself as God’s property. Neither he, nor his family, belongs to anyone but God. God expects total allegiance from this man. Therefore, a minister cannot be bought or manipulated because he has a preeminent loyalty. While the members of God’s congregations are called “priests” and “the people of God,” preachers are called “Men of God” in the pages of Scripture. (1 Peter 2:9-10; 1Timothy 6:11) They are a balance to each other. As a note, this in no way suggests a clergy laity arrangement. This statement should not be interpreted to suggest that preachers should be placed on some pedestal above anyone. They simply belong to God and have a particular role in the kingdom which is predicated on this specific point.
Preachers must remember that above all else they are to be proclaimers of God’s Word. They are the vocal chords of God in a world that has grown dull of hearing, and hard hearted. People often want long songs, long prayers, large contributions, and short sermons. He preaches good tidings and coming judgment. It is his job to handle the Word of God correctly. (2 Timothy 2:15) His loyalties lie with the soundness, power, and purity of Scripture. He trusts God more than anything in this world, but loves the lost to the point of personal sacrifice. He is a believer at his core and uncompromising in the delivery of the message of the Gospel. He is bound to preach the whole counsel of God, both “in season and out of season.” (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2)
As a result of his over-riding priority of being a siren of the Gospel, he must remain focused. He is to be absorbed by his work, and the preacher’s image is to be lost in his Savior. Too many preachers have lost focus and allowed their pulpits to become social and political platforms. They have sought honor from man, and forgotten their first love. Too many have become slaves to the attendance numbers of their local congregations and left the commitment they have to preaching the undiluted word of God to any who will listen. They have allowed members and sadly even some church leaders to discourage their efforts at keeping Scripture sacred by compromising the truth of the Word which they long ago promised to uphold. In some places, real Gospel preaching has been replaced with “theological sitcoms” and “spiritual entertainment”. The Gospel of Jesus, in many places, has been nudged aside for the sinfully superficial and ineffectual humanistic thoughts of those more content with audience placation than with the conviction of sin. Men of God should remember who it is we serve and deliver the message we have been given.
Preachers are not more special than anyone for any reason. They are especially responsible for a single reason – that those who seek to be teachers of the Word bear a very particular cross. (James 3:1) They are bound to be blind to their own needs and wants for the sake of the salvation of those around them. Preaching is not about many things. It is less about speaking, and more about confessing. It is less to do with the golden tones of a silken voice, and more about getting the message correct according to the Bible he has been given. The power is truly in the message and not the messenger! No amount of sound technique will outweigh poor Biblical exegesis.
The bottom line is that God expects His men, “Men of God,” to be His men, His property, His voice, and His advocates in a world that needs salvation more than it needs oxygen. Men of God – PREACH THE WORD! Men of God are servants of the Lord.