Are You Tempted to Add to A Preacher Shortage?
If you are, then please read this article carefully and give serious thought to the matters presented herein before making your final decision.
Often we read and talk about things that are offensive to gospel preachers. True, our brethren ought to be more understanding and sympathetic to the responsibilities preachers must bear, but we need to take a fresh approach to the great lessons given us concerning the things God demands of preachers. This would help us overcome discouragements and lessen the temptation "to add to the preacher shortage."
That there are serious problems affecting the church today, I do not deny. Perhaps due to this reason many are becoming discouraged and are deciding to leave the work of preaching. Let us first consider these problems and then determine whether they give valid reasons for one to quit the work of preaching the gospel. These are troublesome times indeed. The church in this generation has just experienced a great blow in the battle over various issues and problems. The after-math of this struggle that resulted in division is not pleasant at all, for it has left its effects on brethren and churches throughout the land. Hardly anyone came out of this unscathed; many are still picking at wounds that should have been allowed to heal long before now. Feelings and emotions are sensitive and geared to a high pitch. Minor differences among some brethren are agitated into major proportions, and as a result, many churches that fought for truth are again dividing over matters they really cannot define.
As a result, the morale and spiritual zeal of brethren in some places are at low ebb. Discouragement and even fear characterize many congregations and as a result the work does not progress, as it should; in verity, the work in some places is at a standstill. Preachers have generally been in the "frontlines" in the recent battle, and now again many are caught "in the middle" in re-occurring problems in the church. A serious problem exists, but who is at fault? Someone must be the "scapegoat" to receive the blame for all this. Often it is the preacher. Hence the feeling of restlessness or a "guilt-complex" sometimes overtakes the preacher. Frustration, insecurity stalks him and works greater harm than an enemy sniper in physical combat. The situation appears overwhelming and the preacher feels so inadequate to cope with it.
And yet I firmly contend that all this does not, and cannot allow you and me to quit! On the contrary, this is all the more reason why we must continue in the battle "as good soldiers of Jesus Christ." This is all the more reason why our work, prayers, and oft times tears are so vitally essential. The only solution to the problems facing the church is the preaching of the gospel. Let us, fellow gospel preachers, consider some reasons the Lord has given why we should continue to preach the gospel.
1. The work of a gospel preacher is God-appointed. "And He gave someevangelist" (Eph. 4:11). The successful function of the church depends on you, gospel preacher! God did not give a non-essential to the church when "He gave some . . . evangelists." Thus, when you quit you are contributing to the failure and breakdown in the mission and future of the church. You do not help the church to overcome problems; you cannot help to overcome a situation in the church you so dearly love by fleeing from that situation. You cannot "wash your hands" from your responsibility. You have simply failed to fulfill it.
2. As gospel preachers, we are EXPECTED to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3). Did you not consider this as one of the qualities demanded of you by Jesus Christ? How often have you, fellow-preacher, taught your brethren that to follow Jesus one must deny himself and carry his cross? Have you ever reminded the flock that service is not a matter of convenience but rather one of sacrifice? Can we think that the Lord expects less from us than we teach our brethren He expects of them?
The examples of gospel preachers in the New Testament are not ones of ease and comfort, of gain and glory in the material sense. Paul faced perils from Jews and Gentiles alike. He faced "perils among false brethren" (2 Cor. 11:26). Yet he possessed no supernatural strength, even though he was inspired. "Who is weak' and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not" (vs. 29)? He keenly felt the cruel blows of persecution. He was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, maligned, ridiculed. He felt loneliness, hunger, pain and thirst. His own brethren falsely accused him. He also knew what it meant to face strife, heresies, divisions, false doctrines, false teachers, and works of the flesh in the church. We have no greater problems today than he had in his day. But he was able to say, "Persecutions, afflictions which came unto mewhat persecutions I ENDURED" (2 Tim. 3:11).
Does it then surprise you; does it startle you, that as a gospel preacher, you are expected to endure some inconveniences? Are you not willing to suffer the loss of all things "that I may win Christ"?
One characteristic of Paul that helped him to "endure hardness as a good soldier" was that he placed all confidence in the Lord and not in the flesh. While he endured all physical, mental and spiritual hardships, he could sing praises to God at midnight though his body was racked with pain and though he was "fast in the stocks." Though his life was in constant peril, he enjoyed the consolation and comfort of heart that the Lord gave him (2 Thess. 1:16-17). " . . . The peace of God that passeth all understanding" kept his heart and mind through Jesus (Phil. 4:7). That is why he could say, "for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (vs. 11). My brother, this is a quality that must be learned; it must be developed and cultivated. Only thus can spiritual strength and faith be yours to continue in your God-given task. One needs to cultivate patience, as did Paul (2 Tim. 3:10), for lack of this is the major cause of frustrations that beset many gospel preachers.
3. You are the ONLY means God has and employs to carry the gospel of salvation to lost and dying souls. He does not commission angels to preach to man; the Holy Spirit does not operate directly on the heart of the individual. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). "And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher" (Rom. 10:14)? Thus, if you quit, you are failing not only God, but also men and women who depend on your efforts as a gospel preacher.
I cannot, dear preaching brother, appeal to you by means of material riches, worldly rank and recognition. But I sincerely appeal to your faith in and love for Him who made the supreme sacrifice so that man can have the most priceless gift eternal salvation of his soul, and that by the gospel that has been entrusted to you to preach. Can you really be "tempted to add to the preacher shortage" after considering all this? May God give you strength to carry on your work.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 8, pp. 11-12 May 1966