The Preacher’s Heart – Part 1

Whenever you teach a preaching course you are faced with the same challenge.  It is possible to teach skills and principles, but it is not possible to fully train a preacher.  There is that element that can only come from God’s work in a person’s life.  Partially it is a matter of spiritual formation and maturity.  Partially it involves gifting and even natural ability (also a gift).  I’d like to take a couple of posts to scratch the surface of this vast subject.

Reggie McNeal’s book, A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders is a first-rate volume.  I refer to it as my favorite book on leadership.  As preachers, we are leaders.  Whether or not the other trappings of leadership and organizational structure exist, when we preach, we lead.  McNeal rightly points out that leadership is ultimately a matter of the heart.  God is always at work, shaping the hearts of leaders.  Our privilege is to respond to God’s initiative in at least six arenas of life.  The choices we make in response to God’s initiative “are the story of your life.”

Arena 1: Culture – Moses was shaped by Egyptian, Hebrew and Midianite culture.  Paul drew on his Jewish and Roman cultural background.  We need to study our own culture, and other cultures.  No culture is neutral, each has positive and negative elements.  So how do we respond to where God has placed us culturally?  God calls us to engage with culture, and also transcend it or be distinct within it.

Arena 2: Call – A sense of destiny and purpose is important in ministry.  Though each story is different, there is usually both critical moments and an ongoing discovery process.  Moses had the burning bush, and a whole lot of process to work through.  David was anointed by Samuel, followed by much time for soul-searching.  Paul knew both the crisis and the process.  Why you are here on earth, now, wired as you are (gifts, talents, skills, personality), for what purpose?  What is your sense of destiny and direction, passion and purpose? 

The choices we make in response to these realities are critical in the shaping of our lives.

In the next two posts I will share two more pairs of “arenas of God’s heart-shaping initiative” in all our stories.

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