By Johnie Paul Edwards
While all those who preach the gospel of Christ are charged with the same responsibility of preaching the word, there are some things young preachers, especially, need to be. We try to stress these things to our young men in the Preacher Training Program. Perhaps, these things can also be of benefit to other young men who are laboring on behalf of the gospel of Christ. Young preachers need to be:
Someone has said that “enthusiasm is contagious.” If that be the case, then we need a good epidemic! There is no substitute for enthusiasm. The Lord God told Ezekiel of old, “Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot …” (Ezek. 6:11).
Paul told the young evangelist Titus that Christ gave himself to redeem a “peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Philip’s passion for preaching the word can be seen in the fact that he “ran” to teach the man of Ethiopia (Acts 8:30). Young preachers need to learn to be enthusiastic in their preaching.
Solomon said, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). A lot of congregations build a reputation for being unfriendly. Young preachers need to learn early to shake hands with folks and be friendly with all. The example that you set as a gospel preacher will help others to see the value of being friendly and may help the church to grow.
There have been many books written about the importance of dressing for success. It would seem that one’s dress says something about his attitude toward his work. While it is not necessary to spend money on expensive clothing, it is important to dress neatly. In the Preacher Training Program we recommend to the young men that they purchase a blue blazer. A blue blazer goes well with lots of things. Further, we stress to the young men that they keep their shoes cleaned and shined. Invest in a shoe care kit. Then use it! Dad has always told the young men to “watch that body odor! Nobody wants to be around a stinking preacher!”
There are some standards for social behavior and it doesn’t hurt to apply these standards. Lots of our young people today have not been taught to be mannerly. Young preachers need to learn early to say “thank you” and be courteous enough to listen to people when they are speaking to you. Good “bed-side manners” are important when visiting the hospital or visiting the sick at home. Dont go to the hospital and tell the sick patient that you had a relative that died with the same disease!
Some people are late to everything! I remember a few years ago that a fellow was late to his own funeral. I can’t remember a time when he and his family were on time for the services of the church and sure enough, they wheeled him in fifteen minutes late for his own funeral. It’s important to be on time. If you tell someone that you’ll be there at 7:30, then be there at 7:30!
Tact, very simply, has to do with a person knowing how to say a thing properly. Some are so blunt that they scare people away before they ever get their “foot in the door.” It is important for young preachers to have some tact about themselves. Use some wisdom in your speech. Jesus told the Twelve, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harm-less as doves” (Matt. 10:16).
One of the things that we often stress to the young men in the Preacher Training Program is that they get organized and stay organized! We spend quite a bit of time helping these young men with the art of organization. It is important for young preachers to learn to organize their sermons properly and organize their time so they can be productive. You might think of this as “Redeeming the time…” (Eph. 5:16). It is good to make a list of things you need to do, in order of importance, and then, when you accomplish one thing, go on to the next item on your list.
It’s important for young preachers to be optimistic and not “doom, gloom, and boom!” Be optimistic about the congregation you work with. Be optimistic about your work. Remember that your work may involve planting or watering, but God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Far too many young preachers get discouraged to the point that they want to throw up their hands and quit. Be optimistic and realize the value of doing the Lord’s work.
Able To Take Some Constructive Criticism
It’s not always easy to take criticism, but constructive criticism is for one’s own good. Young preachers need to be ready to receive and accept criticism that is offered by well-meaning members of the Lord’s church. Listen to their criticism, use what you can, and discard the rest.
Peter exhorted Christians to, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6). It’s easy for young preachers to be lifted up with pride and have an air or arrogance about themselves. Learn to be “clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5:5).
To be studious is to be devoted or given to study. Paul told the young evangelist Timothy to “study to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Young preachers need to be given to Bible reading and Bible study. Your preaching will reflect the amount of time you put into studying God’s word. You don’t have to tell the members of the church that you didn’t have time to study your lesson, they will already know!
Prompt In Paying Your Bills
It’s easy for young preachers and their families to over extend their finances and spend more than they should. Don’t allow yourself to get into a financial pinch. Set yourself a reasonable budget and then stick with it. Be sure to set aside some money each week or each month for savings. There will always be bills that will come up that you did not expect. Don’t try to live like everyone else, just learn, as Paul did, “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). When you make a debt, pay it!
Be sure to exercise caution when it comes to the young ladies. We all know of preachers who have ruined their good reputation with the brethren because they could not keep their hands off the ladies. When it becomes necessary to visit with a young sister in the Lord, take someone along with you (perhaps, your wife or one of the men in the congregation). Paul told Timothy to treat “the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (I Tim. 5:2). Give no ground to suspicion, no shadow or pretext to those who wish to slander.
Jesus realized the importance of teaching people to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:20). Paul told Timothy to “take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:16). The young preacher’s first obligation is to take heed unto himself! One must first do and then teach (Ezra 7:10; Ac. 1:1). Don’t play the part of a hypocrite! Remember what Moses told Israel of old, “.. . be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).
Hopefully, these things will be of some benefit to young men who are just beginning to preach the gospel of Christ. Above all, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 7 p. 7-8
April 6, 1995