I am 28 and have been involved in "full time" preaching for almost two years. Many people wonder what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but I think I have figured it out! It was some of his fellow preachers! I do not say this lightly so please let me explain.
Discouragement and disappointment has come more of-ten by the actions of some of my fellow preachers than from the actions of the world. I have heard of a preacher threatening to go to law with a brother over charts. Others have openly threatened to sue in articles because of some perceived offence. As Paul said to some who were doing the same, "I speak to your shame . . . Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" (1 Cor. 6:5-7)
Then I see some who think more highly of men than they do of Jesus or the gospel. For years a beloved friend might be publicly teaching error and even writing articles or books trying to spread the error, but many will still defend him. They may not agree with what he teaches, but they still want to fellowship him. Evidence of this is when you see statements such as "brother so-and-so is not teaching the truth on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, but he is not a false teacher!" What is he then?
Then I see some who are obviously motivated by greed and covetousness. Statements have been made such as, "I wouldn't move for less than $50,000." Soft preaching and ear tickling to please those who provide the paycheck is sinful. Then some "full timers" neglect their ministry be-cause they are too involved in being a businessman.
Then the straw that broke my back was preachers refusing to answer Bible questions and citing as their authority men such as Alexander Campbell! It appears that some preachers have felt wronged in the past, carried a grudge, and have personal vendettas against other preachers. I am ready and willing to answer any question about what the Bible teaches on any subject no matter who asks. I think that is the proper attitude of not just a preacher, but any Christian. "Be ye ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15).
I am just a young preacher who views things simply and wants to serve the Lord "with all humility of mind" (Acts 20:19). I believe in the advice given to me when I started preaching by a wise man: "Don't let yourself get in the way of the gospel." Most preachers I know are self-sacrificing servants of Christ, but some are not. Preacher's beware, you will be judged on that great day too!
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 19