A Thankful Preacher
A Thankful Preacher
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3–5).
In virtually all of Paul’s letters he gives thanks to those who made his work possible. Paul was not averse to supporting himself when need be (Acts 18:1–4), but he was grateful when he received financial support to devote himself full time to the ministry of the word. If the great apostle made sure to thank those who supported him, surely those of us who preach today should take a moment to thank those who allow us to do what we do full time.
I love preaching. I do not say this flippantly, because I realize the grave burden of responsibility those of us who preach must bear (James 3:1). And preaching can be a heartbreaking experience, as Jeremiah would testify. Nevertheless, I love preaching. It is a great blessing to love what you do for a living, and through the generosity of my brethren I can be one of those Paul described in 1 Corinthians 9:14: “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”
Just recently three different people asked me when I knew I wanted to preach. I remember distinctly that I made that decision the summer before my sixth grade of school. Sure, there were other things I contemplated (teaching, coaching, law, politics), but I pretty much knew from the time I was around eleven that I wanted to preach. I was blessed to have an older preacher in my hometown who really encouraged that decision.
As I entered my middle teen years, the desire to preach so gripped me that I would make Mom, Granny, and Pop listen to me preach in the living room. Sometimes after school I would go to my room upstairs, rip apart a cardboard box and use it for my chalkboard while I preached—to no one. Our preacher in Winchester arranged for me to go around central Kentucky and preach for smaller churches without a full time man. Since I procrastinated getting my driver’s license, Mom was my chauffeur, and some of our best times together were trips to preach on Sundays. I recall that my senior year in high school I rarely worshipped at home Sunday mornings because of my circuit riding duties. And through that experience I made life-long friends, especially at Frankfort and Paris (Kentucky, not Germany and France!)
I love trying to understand God’s word. I love the hard work that goes into crafting a lesson to explain Scripture in a way that everyone else can understand. I love the challenge of trying to motivate people to do what the Lord says. And despite my ignorance, and despite my personal failings, and despite the many disappointing lessons I preach, I still look forward to Sundays in the pulpit.
What’s the point of these reminiscences? Simply that I am profoundly thankful that my brethren support me to do a work that I love, and have loved for many years. For my colleagues who read this, if you have not already, I encourage you to follow Paul’s example and thank the people who make your work possible.