On one particular Sunday a number of years ago, a well-groomed man visited our congregation once again. He had worshipped with us on numerous occasions during the previous twelve months, but now he made an offer.
“As my business causes me to travel, I try to help out churches by preaching for them. During the last couple of Sundays I have counted the number of scriptures you have used. I can present a lesson using a similar number of verses.”
As you are probably already thinking, presenting God’s word does not revolve around referencing a certain number of biblical texts. At least as I understand it, preaching involves bearing the responsibility of being entrusted to faithfully present the message God has revealed in scripture.
Apparently various ideas exist about preaching. Years earlier when answering the question about plans following high school, I explained my intentions to study for the ministry. One fellow who was about thirty-five years old said, “No, you don’t want to do that! Preaching is for those people who cannot do anything else! Only if every other avenue is blocked, then go to preaching.”
The reactions of a teenager were immediate. “What? We need our best and brightest to serve God as preachers.”
Time has gently modified this thought. If God seeks hearts that respond to his holiness, forgiveness and love with “Here am I send me,” then merely great natural ability should neither preclude nor suggest someone be a preacher. In other words, as 1 Corinthians 3 suggests, talent is not the measure of success in ministry.
After providing amble reasons in that chapter why the Corinthians should focus their thoughts upon God and not upon the messengers like himself or Apollos, Paul concluded:
“One should think about us this way – as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
If you were to serve on a selection committee for a preacher, what would be your criteria? Perhaps an even better question might be, if God was selecting a preacher for your congregation what would be God’s criteria?