Eavesdropping

Snooping Businessman Holding Glass to Wall

by Stan Mitchell

I picked up a book written by Dale Jenkins recently entitled “A Minister’s Heart.” It is packed with wise, heartbreaking, encouraging (and sometimes funny) advice. I’m glad he wrote it, and I intend to buy several copies and give them to some young preachers I know.

But I have a question.

Would you “ordinary” Christians like to hear some of these items? Would you like to know how the church looks to a preacher? Any preacher of at least two years experience knows exactly what brother Jenkins means when he says:

  • At least three times, you’re going to wince when a guest speaker comes in and your arch enemy says clearly so that you can hear it, ‘Now that’s the kind of preaching we need!'”
  • “You are going to bury your best friend and mentor.”
  • “You are going to wonder who counsels the counselor” 
  • “You will be scolded for not visiting someone when they were in the hospital, even though they never told anyone they were going to be in the hospital.”
  • “You will have at least two people say that they hate you. You will have to preach a message of ‘truth in love’ to those same people.”
  • “You are going to have to defend your kids for doing something that if any other church member’s kid did, it would be overlooked.” 
  • “You are never going to make as much money in ministry as you could have using your skill set in the corporate world.”
  • “You will study 20 hours for a deep, meaningful, inspiring sermon only to be told that it was a ‘nice little talk.'”
  • You will be told in every church where you preach that the ever elusive ‘they’ are not happy with your work.”
  • “You will have every aspect of your work and personality critiqued and criticized. And you will wonder, ‘Should I just quit for the good of the kingdom?’ Don’t quit.”

Beloved brethren, I have allowed you to look over the shoulder of a more experienced preacher as he counsels a younger preacher. Perhaps you have seen by eavesdropping this way how the world looks to the gospel preacher.

I know there are false teachers. I know there are preacher “head cases.” I know young men make young men’s mistakes. But a young man with a good heart is worth preserving.

Could you do this for me, please: Be conscious of the effect your words and actions have on a young man. Understand that if he survives his young years as a preacher, he might become a massively important servant of the Lord in the mission field, in the US, or in a place that trains young men.

Satan wants these young people to quit the church in large numbers. Would you please do everything you can to disappoint him?

“Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease, night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31, ESV).

Preachers are responsible for the congregations they serve; congregations are responsible for the preachers who serve them.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan began preaching in 1976, and worked in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He served as preacher with the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He was Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He was married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He authored five books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs; Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song; Equipping the Saints for Ministry; and Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation. Stan passed away 19 Feb. 2019.

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5 thoughts on “Eavesdropping

  1. excellent article….. as a former preacher i have seen and felt many of these things, and so much more… very very sadly i say, if i had a son, i would not want him to be a preacher… way way too much heartache and heartbreak

  2. We have a wonderful, and young, minister here at Green Forest. I promise to not forget this admonition. Thanks, brother… Dennis Hanes

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