By Bill Cavender
Last November it was my good pleasure and privilege to spend two to three hours a day for five days with about thirty different young men who are preaching and/or who. plan to give their lives in preaching the gospel of Christ. This was a refreshing experience for this.: preacher of fifty years in age and thirty years in preaching. It caused me to look again into my own heart, to examine myself as to my own love for God, for Christ, for the scriptures, and for the souls of lost people. Vicariously, and to a small degree, I caught Again . a glimpse of myself thirty years ago, beginning to preach, with all :the dedication, sincerity, determination, zeal and anticipation .of a useful life in God’s service and kingdom which I observed for five days in most of those young men who met and talked with me
My task with those men was to talk with them, teach, and discuss with them the “Work of a Gospel Preacher.”: We tried to include in these discussions, and in the material presented, such topics as the preacher’s attitude and disposition, habits, marriage, family, wife, children, child-rearing, relationships with brethren (elders, deacons, women, other preachers, etc.), preaching, condemnation of error and false teachers, study habits, prayer life, visiting, etc., and not just confine our .remarks and material specifically to the preacher’s work.
In the beginning of our classes together, I asked each of these young preachers to write a paragraph or two, stating to me their reasons for desiring to preach and what they hoped to accomplish by preaching the gospel of Christ. Some of these statements touched me deeply, and caused me to re-examine my own motives and purposes these many years later. These young preachers helped me, I believe, more than I helped them. I desire now to share with you some of their statements, convictions and ideals.
One preacher, age 21, married one year, wrote: “I want to preach the gospel for several reasons. First, because I don’t think I would be happy doing anything else. Preaching the gospel is the greatest work that any man could undertake, and I feel that it’s the most needed work that could be done on this earth. I think that I have a certain amount of ability, and that I should use what I have in service to the Lord. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and yet I feel as though I know very little. I engaged in things and believed things less than a year ago that I wouldn’t think of doing or believing now, because I have studied the truth and seen that I was wrong. I want to study and know God’s will and to live to the best of my ability the life which He intends for a Christian to live. I’m concerned with the destiny of my own soul and the souls of others, and my highest accomplishment as a gospel preacher would be to live in such a way as to be granted mercy in the day of judgment and to be saved. In striving for this goal I hope that I might teach others the truth that they might have a hope of salvation also.”
One brother, age 31, married, with children, wrote: “Why am I preaching the gospel — I don’t have any other choice. There is nothing else that I can do and be satisfied in life. I feel that God has given me certain talents and abilities and I must do all that I can to use them faithfully in His service. What do I hope to accomplish by preaching the gospel? To be able to stand before my God and Maker in the day of Judgment and return, with an increase, the talents that He has given me. With God as my Helper, I hope that during whatever time He grants me, I may be able to point some to ‘the way,’ bring some back to ‘the way,’ and help others grow in Christ.”
Two brethren, both age 20, unmarried, wrote: “Two reasons seem to come into my mind when I think about why I’ve decided to make it my life’s work to preach. One is because in being raised as a preacher’s son I feel that I have a certain natural inclination to preach. A second and more mature reason is that my high regard for the work of preaching Christ is such that I would not be satisfied doing anything less. Again I can identify two goals which I hope to attain through preaching. One is to satisfy my own desire to do the most profitable, worthwhile work possible and secondly to save others. I think in both of these goals not only would I be blessed personally, and others also, but God would be glorified through my life …. Why do I want to preach? It was in the second year of grade school when I decided what my life’s work would be. Since that time there has never been a serious second thought as to do something else in my life. I want to preach the gospel and do it as best I can. Why? Simply because I personally feel that my soul would be lost if I didn’t. Also having grown up in the home of a preacher, I’ve seen all the trials and heartaches; having to move to a new town, having to change schools and make new friends, hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night, seeing Dad have to go to the hospital or funeral home in the early hours of the morning, being with sickness and death, and seeing all the problems preachers must go through and that brethren put upon them. Living with all this all my life and seeing what a preacher must face, all I can say is I wouldn’t want .it any other way in my life for years to come. What do I hope to accomplish? There are basically two things that I feel are important goals in my life as a preacher. First of all I want to save myself and go to heaven, and, second, to take as many people with me as possible. This is the crux of my ambition and all I hope to accomplish centers around this.”
A brother, age 19, single, a preacher’s son, wrote: “My father, brother, uncle and cousin are all preachers. I have been preaching for a year now, so you might say that by now I should know why I want to preach. However, I can’t really put my finger on the one, predominant reason I want to preach. My dad told me, if you can keep from preaching, then don’t do it. Of course he wasn’t telling me that preaching was such a lousy job that if at all possible I should avoid it. What he was saying was that if preaching wasn’t something that I felt that I just had to do, then I had no business doing it. Why do I want to preach? Because after preaching for one year I really can’t imagine not doing it. I feel I have the ability and for me not to use that ability in service to God would seem wrong to me.”
A preacher, 23 years old, married, father of one child, wrote: “I plan to preach because I believe that I can fill a need for someone to spread the Gospel of our Lord. I believe that I was put on this earth to serve God and man (in that order). I feel that through preaching I can discharge these two responsibilities. I plan to move to Canada next summer and work in either the Sundridge or Bancroft area, helping men there for maybe one or two years until I learn the area and its needs. When I move to the place where I see the most need, I will try to stay there no less than five years and will plan to stay a lifetime. I think a lot of money and time is wasted by constantly moving from one place to another. I will either go to a small congregation and help it grow, or I will begin one and help it grow. My short and long range goal is to teach men and women the truth about God, and to lead a good Christian life as an example to all.”
What is my purpose in reproducing these statements and thoughts here? To cause our readers and brethren to consider the thoughts and purposes of some young preachers. To help us all to appreciate and respect those young, dedicated men who will serve God, serve their brethren, and use their lives in the greatest work in the world. And to, hopefully, cause all of us who preach to pause and think, to re-examine our own hearts and motives, to be sure that we have not lost that sincerity and dedication to God and our fellows which are so necessary to the accomplishment of our work and the salvation of our own soul. Perhaps, in some later articles, I can share with you the thoughts of other young men as they expressed them from their hearts to mine.
Truth Magazine XXI: 37, pp. 584-585
September 22, 1977