What preachers wish congregations knew about preachers

He stands in the pulpit every Sunday. He must be deeply spiritual. Never has any doubts, never feels discouraged, because he is a spiritual leader, right?

Well, you might be surprised to find that your preacher is human. Have you ever wondered what he wished you knew, but was afraid to tell you?

  • He wishes you knew that preachers don’t just work on Sunday. Consider what we ask of our local preachers. If he delivers four lessons a week, that’s two hundred messages a year (if you give him two weeks off), a thousand messages in five years. If he delivers thoughtful, spiritual messages, that implies time in prayer and preparation. No, he doesn’t come up with great messages by waving a preacher wand. Don’t worry, if he’s not studying, you will be able to tell the difference. Aside from preparing messages, he visits the hospital, shut-ins, counsels the disturbed and mollifies the upset and antagonistic. He is on call 24/7. Many is the time when he will return to the office at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday to complete a sermon because of funerals, counseling, visitation and so on.
  • He wishes you would bring your critiques to him, rather than other members or their wives. If you have a concern with something your preacher said or did, follow Matthew 18:18-20 and Galatians 6:1,2. Speak to him first, and do so in a gentle and loving manner.
  • He wishes you knew that his wife does not have any special position in the church. Just like the doctor’s wife does not dispense medicine, the preacher’s wife should not be expected to be some kind of spiritual wonder woman. She is a member of the congregation, under the care of shepherds, just like all the other members.
  • He wishes you knew how hard it is to please everybody. If he wears a tie, he’s too stuffy, if he wears his shirttail out he’s too casual; he should cover first principles, he should tell us something new; he should spend more time in visitation, he should spend more time preparing sermons.
  • If he is a family man, he has the same financial concerns as the rest of the congregation does. He worries that he has no pension (the vast majority of preachers do not have one), he worries that he cannot buy his wife a new outfit every once in a while, he worries that when he is elderly and in poor health that he will be destitute. Ask yourself: if the congregation gave their preacher the average salary of the congregation, would his salary increase or decrease?
  • Sometimes, he wants to quit. Satan wants him to quit. Enemies of the cross want him to quit. It feels like even his own brethren want him to quit. He feels he is taken for granted. Brethren rave about preachers of yesteryear, or preachers at various lectureships, and he wonders if he is “chopped liver.” Paul once declared, “and who is sufficient for such things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16).
  • He wishes you knew that sometimes he will have to say something unpopular and uncool if he is to truly speak for the Lord. He hopes there are mature Christians who will back him when he does that.
  • He wishes you knew how much he cares. He weeps over a member who leaves the faith, a teen who succumbs to drugs or drink. When you weep at a funeral over a beloved brother or sister, he must deliver the message; but he weeps on the inside.
  • He wishes you knew how much a simple card or message saying “Thank you” meant to him. Every preacher has a shoebox of these messages, and when he’s down, he pulls it out and reads it again. Text him, message him, say the words “Thank you” and specify what you’re grateful for.

Paul suggests the proper attitude toward your preacher: “Honor such men,” he says (Philippians 2:29). Isn’t it time you honored your preacher?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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