Being in the Ministry of the Word is a great adventure
2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV) 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Being part of the ministry of the Word is a noble calling. Preaching is a ministry that demands the whole totality of a preacher’s life. It demands the preacher’s ability, spirituality, and character. I have been in the ministry for about 11 years and I have seen the different phases of it. If there is one key takeaway that I can say is that the ministry requires the grace of God alone for you to be able to do it. It is solely dependent on God’s ability to deal with the preacher as well as the messages to be delivered through him. Because of that, having been a witness to His greatness, I can share some things that God has taught me across the time being I have been able to serve Him:
#1 Ministry of the Word demands COMMITMENT
Oh yes, how many times have I heard it being said. It is often associated with discipleship that following Jesus demands commitment. When I have dedicated my life to Jesus, I knew that it would be costly — it will cost my very own life.
Commitment to God
Commitment to God is the passion to truly put God first in my life. Doing the ministry can go off-hand since it takes time and effort. However, remaining connected to the true vine (which is Jesus) should be a greater priority. Sometimes, people become too busy with the Kingdom but have no time for the King. Commitment to God should be a big priority in a preacher’s life because it is where He remains connected and attuned to the Master.
Commitment to the Study of God’s Word
Being a preacher demands to fervently study the word of God aside from doing just regular daily devotions. It is a different story when we say a careful study of the Word of God. Why is it necessary? Simply because the lives of other people depend on what a preacher says. Any preacher can lead any man to sound doctrine or heresy if he is not careful.
Commitment to God’s Work
As a human being, not every day is a good day. Sometimes, there will be days that it seems the gates of hell broke loose and all the demons are against you. Yet, YOU HAVE TO PREACH on that same day. I remember a time wherein it rained so hard while I am on my way to church without an umbrella. Got soaked and wet before I delivered a message. True enough, Jesus remains faithful. I realized that during the most difficult days that you CHOSE to minister are the days where God can use you in a more powerful way.
#2 Ministry of the Word demands CONFIDENCE
I am sure that my fingers won’t be able to remember the countless times I have doubted my calling. Oftentimes, I feel that I am the same worthless person unworthy to serve God. But because of God’s grace, it is very important to remember that our lives can be so much useful to God and His Kingdom. Every time I am in doubt before I go to the pulpit, I often say a prayer that may God’s Word alone speak to me, and through me. Putting confidence in God is the key to a confident preacher.
#3 Ministry of the Word demands TRAINING
“Training is our happy hour.”
I often hear it from my pastor who trained me. Equipping for ministry is necessary.
A lot of ministers fall into the trap of being a know-it-all. It doesn’t mean that once you have become a pastor or reach such a leadership position, you will stop training. Remember that the word disciple means a student in its original text. The characteristic of a student is a learner. If a person stops learning, then I suppose that means that a person stops being a disciple. If you are a preacher, then hone your craft. Look at the way you preach a few years ago and look at the way you preach today. Is there any difference? What are those? Have you listened to constructive criticisms by the church leaders or members?
If there is an opportunity for you to learn and grow, grab it by all means. If you can study further in the seminary or attend various seminars, go ahead. Leaders are readers. I hope you never stop reading as well so that you can learn from others. Watch YouTube video sermons or listen to a sermon audio podcast. There are limitless ways to develop your skill. Be humble and be willing to be trained.
#4 Ministry of the Word demands RESILIENCE
Not every sermon you preach can come out as a great sermon. Oftentimes, great sermons come out when you least expect it. It is easy to get discouraged every time to deliver a great sermon. Moreover, you know to yourself that you messed up in the pulpit. Yet, there is always good news. You can just stand up and preach again. If you are certain that God has called you to be a preacher, then you have to be resilient. Criticisms from the people you love will come. But it is about how you will respond to it and take it to your experience.
#5 Ministry of the Word demands TIME
Preparing a sermon the night before Sunday? You are not alone. I know there are times that the Holy Spirit can truly change your sermon even on the day when you are about to deliver it. However, sermon preparation demands time.
No matter how good the preacher is to deliver fancy words in the pulpit, people can easily recognize if the sermon was not soaked in prayer. Developing a sermon alone is already difficult. Much more soaked a sermon in prayer because we need nothing more than God to work in us and through us.
Careful exegesis and application of the right hermeneutics is essential in writing a good sermon. It is so much fun to see the Word of God gradually unfolds right before your eyes and opens your heart to see the message of God for you and through you.
#6 Ministry of the Word demands a COMMUNITY (Mentor)
I’ve met a lot of pastors and preachers who suck at their preaching both in content and in delivery. Some preachers focus on their theological knowledge and tend to show off what they know but suck at their delivery. I’ve also known a lot who are good at their sermon delivery but they lack sense because they haven’t done proper exegesis of their sermon. To avoid this common problem, a mentor is much needed. However, if a mentor is not available, it is important to stay accountable to a pastor or someone co-equal with your gifts and calling.
We don’t make good exegetical outlines all the time. I think we all need another eye to check our work before launching to the field so that we would be a worker who has nothing to be ashamed of. Pride easily creeps in the preacher’s heart if we think we can do the ministry of the Word on our own.
#7 Ministry of the Word demands CONSISTENCY
“The best version of the Bible that any man can read is your life.” This was a quote I have heard very long ago from a pastor but it really made a great impact in my life. We can deliver God’s Word to other people but we have to keep in mind that we should practice what we preach. A lot of times, I have noticed (mostly prosperity gospel preachers) that preachers who avoid offending their hearers with regards to preaching about sin in our lives are because they themselves may have been guilty of.
I remember in
1 Thessalonians 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
The apostle Paul did not simply preach the gospel, but it was witnessed together with the power of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, people knew what kind of men they were. It implies that the Apostle Paul lived an excellent life that is consistent with the Gospel of Christ.
Consistency with Sound Teaching
A preacher’s message should be consistent with the Word of God. I have seen a lot of preachers that they use and misuse a lot from their sermons simply because they fail to fully study what they are about to deliver. At first, I always thought that preaching is somewhat similar to giving an inspirational message of encouragement. However, during the time that I have started studying in the seminary, I learned how important proper hermeneutics is. It is very important that preachers should be careful disciples (students) of God’s Word.
Consistency with Sound Living
As the Apostle Paul said in the passage earlier, their message is accompanied by excellent life. It doesn’t imply that you will no longer sin or commit mistakes in the ministry, but having a life that is above reproach. It means that by the grace of God, we can live obediently to God’s Word and live a life of purity, integrity, and quality. Our ministry may be affected if people find it odd that there are areas in our lives that are not consistent with God’s Word. Integrity is far more difficult to earn than money. It takes time that you spend with people and not just time spend teaching them the counsel of God.
#8 Ministry of the Word Demands Communication Proficiency
Okay, this is now on the practical part of preaching. At first, I used to believe that it is my mistake if ever I slept on a sermon. Yes, it was! However, I believe that there is also a certain degree of responsibility on the preacher’s side. Every time I deliver a message and notice that some of my listeners are dozing off, I am pretty sure that I am not doing a great job.
Well, you may argue that “preaching is not supposed to be entertainment!” Yes, I agree with that as well. I even resent people who uses the pulpit just to deliver fancy feel-good messages. However, having a sense of dynamics of public speaking won’t hurt. Remember that preachers are heralds of God’s message. Therefore, it is very important to speak in a well-modulated voice.
Another thing that I have learned from my experience is the language library. It is very important to deliver the message properly and creatively. I have been one person who was like looking for the right words to say so that it could easily be understood by the listeners. That’s why most effective pastors and preachers I know were actually wide readers. They try to read as much so they can tell as much. Similarly, listening to podcasts is also a helpful avenue to learn about other preacher’s style and ways of preaching.
#9 Ministry of the Word Demands Reliance on God’s Power
I have stated this earlier. Preaching demands the preacher to rely on God’s power. There were times in my life that I knew, I was reliant on my own set of skills and knowledge. It was very difficult because, at the end of the sermon, you know that there is a certain degree of dissatisfaction within you. It is very important to keep in mind that God’s ministry is not achievable apart from God’s power. That’s why most characters in the Bible were given visions by God that are too demanding for them to do. It is because God wants His people to depend on Him in doing the assignment that He has given us.
#10 Ministry of the Word Demands Relevance
Over the years, one of the significant things I have learned is the use of live body details as illustrations. I learned it during the first year I have started studying in seminary. I believe that sermons should be both rational and experiential. The truth of God’s Word is better communicated when it is seasoned with illustrations. Illustrations make the point you are trying to make relevant to your listeners since they can share a “common experience” with a certain story you are sharing.
Acquiring a Bank of Illustrations
It is important to have a storage of illustrations somewhere. I use my digital note-taking system to capture a lot of illustrations and quotes from books that I have read. Similarly, taking notes of various experiences I encounter or some meaningful conversations with the people I encounter. Having a bank of illustrations where you can store all these stories is important because every time you create a sermon of having a similar theme, you can just simply pull it out. It’s not you are just going to cram looking for stories when you are about to make a sermon.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”David Allen – Getting Things Done
#11 Ministry of the Word Demands the Call of God
I will never forget the comparison of a shepherd and a hireling. I have seen a lot who started in their faith being on fire with God just to simply let their fire run out. The most important thing I will never forget is that when God calls you to preach, you are appointed and anointed for the work. I have seen a lot of people who attempted to study in Bible Schools just to find out they were not called by God for the ministry. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of people who were not even graduates from seminaries who started studying because they knew they were called by God in the ministry of the Word. If you knew you were called by God, then simply you are on the right track.
As the apostle James said,
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.James 3:1 (ESV)
Learned, Learning and will continue to Learn
I have learned a lot of things beyond the 11 things I have learned. Learning from both my mistakes and the mistakes of others. Countless hours or exploring, praying, practicing is really required to be an excellent one. I cannot say that I am there already, but one thing I am sure of. God will not give you a mission without His provision. So if you know within your heart that you were called by God to be a herald of His righteousness, He will carry you through. Mistakes and failures may come. But take heart, we will surely overcome.