A Long Line of Preachers

by Bill Denton

"I solemnly 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:1-5, nasb95)

"One day I sat down with my daughter and explained with great pride that her grandfather was a preacher, her great-great grandfather was a preacher, and her great-great-great grandfather was a preacher. To which she replied, ‘Wow! We sure come from a long line of grandfathers.'"

-Linda Click, Adrian, Mich. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

It's hard for preachers to get respect and admiration. The following appeared in Christian Century, Jan 11, 2003: "Asked to rate the honesty and ethics of 21 professions, just 52 percent of Americans gave high marks to clergy, down from 64 percent last year. The clergy rating reached its peak, at 67 percent, in 1985." The news is not all bad, however, for the article went on to point out: "Overall, clergy ranked fourth among all professions, behind nurses (79%), military officers (65%) and high school teachers (64%)."

Perhaps it's not all bad news, since that survey reflected a view of all ministers and that surely includes a number of people that may or may not be what most Christians think of as legitimate spiritual leaders. But, it doesn't give a lot of comfort to those ministers who may long for the respect of earlier generations.

Over the years, I've had numerous young men ask my opinion about whether they should pursue a career in church ministry. I almost always try to talk them out of it. After all, they won't get rich, they will work long and strange hours, their families will sacrifice in ways most others won't, and quite honestly, the people who most need to hear what you have to say will often not like it when you say it. Ministry is no place for the faint of heart.

Thankfully, there are many others who manage to buck the trends and counter the surveys. It's a terrific shot in the arm when people acknowledge that your teaching and preaching is helping them. It's a validation of both yourself and your ministry when people let you know that you have helped them through some ordeal or struggle, and that because you were there, they are surviving and growing closer to the Lord. There are few things as exciting as watching some of the people you have taught, encouraged, prayed for, chastised, and sometimes cried over suddenly demonstrate some serious depth of faith and responsibility. What a charge it is to have that kind of input and participation in other people's lives.

I've known some bum preachers. Most aren't like that, though. I've known some insincere preachers, but most couldn't possibly be described that way. I've known some men who make it hard on other ministers. They are the minority. I come from a long line of grandfathers, of which, I am now one. I'd like for my great-great-great grandchildren to come from a long line of preachers who influenced their lives.

© Copyright 2004, Dr. Bill Denton

Reprinted by permission

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