You and I want to be counted as faithful preachers of God’s word. But what does that look like? What should be our guiding light as we continue to walk in, what I believe is, the best vocation anyone could ever be called to?
Paul was concerned about this very thing for his mentee, Timothy.
I believe we can see 6 marks of a faithful preacher from these words of Paul to Timothy.
6 Marks of a Faithful Preacher
1. Recognize the weight of your calling.
When it comes down to it, the weight of what we are called to is not ours to bear, but ours to recognize. The weight is the Lord’s. We are not the ones who can redeem our hearers, that is God’s work and His alone.
But, nonetheless, there is a weight and a seriousness to what we do as pastor-preachers.
We must take our calling seriously and lean on God’s faithfulness to carry us forward.
Our eloquence, our intellect, our passion, and our exegetical precision are all simply tools in the hands of God. Without Him, the things we bring to the table are worthless.
2. Preach the word.
We are heralds of God’s message, not our own. We preach God’s word. We open up Scripture to examine and understand what God is saying. Then and only then do we have a word from the Lord.
To be a faithful preacher is to preach the word.
I believe that carries a two-fold thrust:
- Preach the Bible
- Preach Jesus
Paul himself said that he set out to know one thing among the church in Corinth when he was preaching and teaching them – Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
If our messages aren’t covered in the blood of the Lamb, they will lack power.
So preach the word, friend.
3. Stand on the authority of God’s word.
There is a way of thinking present in our culture that says someone cannot speak on certain topics if they themselves have not experienced the things they are speaking on.
While this sentiment may seem logical on some level, it is not biblical.
So when the passage we are preaching through touches on a subject we feel inadequate speaking about, we must lean into that because we don’t speak from our own authority, we speak from the authority of God’s own words.
Difficult truths should always be communicated with grace and humility. But we must also communicate them with truth and confidence; Confidence in the fact that we are standing on solid ground when we communicate what God’s word says.
Preach the word in season and out of season. When we feel like it and when we don’t feel like it. When we feel like we’re in a groove and when we feel like we’re in a rut.
When we’re preaching on a topic we’re passionate about and when we’re preaching on a topic that makes us uncomfortable and stretches us.
4. Preach pastorally.
Paul tells Timothy to “rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” That’s a picture of preaching pastorally. It means we’re not simply conference speakers standing on a stage and leaving after the event.
We live among our people, we guide them, direct them, encourage them, rebuke them, correct them, all with patience and biblical teaching.
To preach pastorally means to preach incarnationally. When we love the people we lead, they will listen to what we preach.
Love them well. Tell them what God’s word says. Show them the way. And show them where to turn when they go astray.
A faithful preacher preaches pastorally.
5. Don’t depend on your flock for encouragement.
Paul tells Timothy that people will abandon sound teaching and go to people who will simply tell them what they want to hear.
Scripture is a double-edged sword. When it is wielded, it cuts deep. There will be people who don’t appreciate the precision. They’ll run from it and go to the latest prosperity-you-can-you-will “preacher.”
So it’s a dangerous game to depend on the flock we pastor for encouragement. That game goes both ways. If we lean on them for encouragement, we’ll fall flat when we receive discouragement.
But the better way is to lean on God for our encouragement. To constantly remind ourselves of our calling and to constantly preach the gospel to ourselves.
We don’t preach for people’s approval. We preach because God has called us to be His heralds.
When you receive encouragement from people, receive it. But don’t lean on it.
6. Keep going.
I love this: “But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
One more step.
One more moment.
One more day.
One more sermon.
Fulfill your ministry. Keep plodding. God’s not done with you yet.
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What would you add? What is another mark of a faithful preacher?
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