Big League Preachers
Big League Preachers
A couple of years ago I found out I was being attacked by a fellow young preacher on an internet bulletin board list. In a very malicious and dishonest way he had distorted some things I had written in an article several years earlier. When I contacted him to object to his public broadside, pointing out that he could have at least given me the courtesy to talk to me first, his response was, “You’re in the big leagues now.” Since I had written an article for publication, I was a big leaguer.
For some time I have been a big preacher (if you have seen me you know what I mean), though not a big name preacher (I am a two-first-name preacher, though). But I did not realize I was in the big leagues until that comment. I guess the good brethren I have preached for before that internet encounter will be sorry to learn that they are the minor leagues (where I suppose they should stick to the minor prophets).
Celebrities often complain that the public likes to elevate them only because that makes them easy targets to tear down. Perhaps in some perverse way that same mentality explains why some preachers feel they can fire at will upon any brother whose name appears in the byline of an article, or on a gospel meeting announcement. As one of my friends was told in a similar circumstance by another brotherhood gunslinger, because he had written an article he was “fair game.”
The most troubling aspect of the “big league” comment was the obvious implication that there are ranks of brethren, especially preaching brethren. And I would imagine (though I did not ask him directly) that the young preacher who assailed me counted himself as a big leaguer as well. After all, since he had chosen to engage me, he must be in the same league.
Speech betrays the heart, according to the Lord (Matthew 12:34). To speak in terms like “the big leagues” unmasks an arrogance that is spiritual poison. This same inflated sense of self was characteristic of Paul’s enemies. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul wryly commented, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
Thank God for the men who I suppose my critic could only describe as “minor league” preachers. Men who, often supporting themselves, squeeze time to study into their busy days, who preach in places the “big leaguers” never would, and who, although they may never write an article or hold gospel meetings or speak at big league lectureships, humbly share the good news of their Lord who was “gentle and humble in heart.”
“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).