Ordained ministry is a serious and strenuous calling that requires form a man a radical refusal to set any limits on what God may demand of him.
Knowing that he has been drafted, fitted for ministry, entrusted with a message, and sent out in the name of the Lord, the minister ought to demonstrate the proper authority in his every action. It is not a proud or arrogant authority, nor a tyranny, nor a selfish domination; all of these would be a singular affront to the One whose commission forms the basis of his ministry. Rather, it is an authority that is displayed in adoration of the Lord, humility before the Lord, boldness for the Lord, and absolute loyalty to the Lord and His truth
We are to reflect Christ in all that we say and do. And the Christ of Scripture is the humble, suffering servant who, in spite of great opposition, false accusations, and public ridicule, remained faithful to the heavenly calling.
Don’t miss this point! The success of the messenger, the herald, is that after the message is delivered, the audience remembers it, not merely as the sound of the messenger, but as the message of the Lord.
What the church lacks today is not quantity but quality in her pulpits. A strong case can be made that we presently have too many men in pastoral ministry; too many who have taken the mantle of leadership upon themselves without having been selected and formed by God for that purpose. They preach, but not with power and often not with truth; they lead, but not from the platform of a life of godliness, holiness, and prayer; and slowly these men are changing the face of pastoral leadership. What once was a ministry of humble dependence upon God and his Word is more and more becoming a position of power and influence dependent upon marketing strategies, programming innovations, and an increasing infatuation with technology and culture. The image of a pastor as a servant-teacher is fast being replaced with that of a Chief Executive Officer whose knowledge of modern organizational theory and communication technique is more highly prized than his commitment to praying and preaching.
Today, the pressure to fill auditoriums and services has driven many pastors to place the felt needs, or tastes, of the people above their duty to Christ. On every hand we hear of the Gospel being molded into a non-confrontative message intended to meet felt needs and impress the sinful heart. And, by most standards, this new philosophy of church life is working, as more and more auditoriums are filled with people hungry for a message that will affirm that they are actually on fairly good terms with the Almighty. But the biblical message is the message of the cross. It cuts right across the grain of the modern age’s preoccupation with pride, tearing down the façade and exposing the wretchedness of the human heart… Unfortunately, while the modern “un-gospel” may fill seats, it is the true gospel of sin and grace that is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
The herald-preacher has a three-fold responsibility: To be faithful to the one by whom he has been appointed by keeping his character blameless and above reproach; to be faithful in delivering the message as it has been entrusted to him being careful to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and to be faithful in going out to the audience for whom the message proclaimed is the only hope of eternal salvation.
You are not your own; you are a man under orders. And the One who has drafted you and signed your orders expects that you carry them out in a manner worthy of Him, and in such a way that His authority and His kingdom cannot be ignored. Now go, labor, work, and do your duty well knowing that it is the greatest privilege under heaven to be in the personal service of the Almighty.
Even as God is at work shaping desire and growing a man in the areas of knowledge and ability, the first and most visible mark of the called man is godly character. While great gifts and broad knowledge are certainly a blessing in public ministry, no amount of academic or ministerial brilliance matters if the man is not first known to be conspicuously holy.
It must be seen that…the spirit of love in the minister arises not so much out of natural personality, but is a gift of God. This love, then, will be a reflection of God’s love and will demonstrate itself not only in a man’s sincere love for God and His truth, but also a deep compassion for people accompanied by a loving compulsion to seek after them, aid them, and extend the grace of Christ to them. How insightful is the comment often heard that “one should not take the job of shepherd until he learns to love the smell of sheep.”
In evaluating a man’s ability to teach it is necessary to inject some objectivity into a largely subjective task. The communication of God’s truth by a man appointed and duly gifted by God will at least be recognizable as being: clear and understandable; winsome and arresting; and life-changing.
When I was a child I heard my father say, “If God has called you to preach, don’t step down to be the President of the United States. But if your heart will let you do anything besides preaching, do it!”