This morning I’m thinking about what it means to be a preacher, but in so doing, I’m thinking about what it means to be a Christian, because there really shouldn’t be much of a difference apart from what you do for a “job.”
I remember in Preaching School one of my instructors told us “preaching is not your job; preaching is your life.” I get what he meant, but if I wanted to quibble I would pick that apart and elaborate a bit more:
Christianity is not a job; Christianity is my life, and part of being a Christian is being “evangelistic.” I can be an evangelistic plumber, an evangelistic school teacher, an evangelistic lawyer, an evangelistic stay at home mom (well, I can’t be, but whatever), an evangelistic steamboat captain, etc, ad infinitum.
What I am, in my case, is an evangelistic preacher. I do this for a living. I make connections with people for a living. I study the Bible for a living. I bear burdens for a living. In a lot of ways, it’s the greatest job in the world, which is good because I don’t have a clue how to do anything else.
I can barely unclog a toilet; you don’t want me being your evangelistic plumber, people.
So, on the one hand, I can say “we all should be preachers, per say” but on the other hand, I recognize that I work a very special work that not everyone has chosen to do. With that comes added responsibility, added pressure, and added stress. An evangelistic plumber is expected by the Lord to bear the burdens of his brothers and sisters in Christ, but an evangelistic preacher, who does this for a living, is necessarily going to be bearing those burdens to an even more considerable degree.
Bearing burdens is what Paul tells us to do, by the way…
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
That’s easy to read…but it’s hard to do, sometimes.
You do that when you listen to the problems of your friends and family and loved ones, new church goers and old, church members you see three times a week, and those you see three times a year. You listen to it all, you look for all their struggles and pain, you look at all their petty disagreements and all their serious heartaches, because this is the job you took, to see their needs and help them find Biblical answers for them.
You take all they throw at you (because you’re their preacher and you’re their brother in Christ), and it weighs on you heavily, and the pressure builds because you worry about their souls and you want them to continue growing in Christ and not give up on Heaven’s journey. And all that they give you, you keep putting on your shoulders, more and more, until eventually, what often happens is, the pressure gets to be too much and it breaks you and you end up sitting in the shower weeping over it.
And when that happens, you think about Jesus, and how He bore the burdens of the whole world (Isaiah 53), and you consider just how much stronger His shoulders are. Jesus bore it all. And when you remember that, as a preacher, you develop a greater appreciation for the Lord, and you go right back out there, right back to work, ready to listen and take in and take on the problems your loved ones give you, to craft sermons that can help, to pray for those who need help, and to lift people up when they’re puddles on the floor.
Again, we should all be burden bearers, but this morning I’m thinking of preachers, and how there are some preachers who seem to think this work is just easy money, whip up a few sermons, rip off a few points from other preachers and commentators and go about your day. That’s not the work. That’s not it at all. We “evangelistic preachers” are called to bear burdens for a living. That’s the job. If you’re not down with that, find another job:
The world needs more evangelistic plumbers, too.