Perhaps the Greatest Test?

We all know that some moments are more challenging than others.  What would be the greatest test of your ministry as a preacher?  Would it be to preach with your preaching professor in the pew?  Would it be to preach with a famous preacher visiting to hear you?  Would it be to preach as a stand-in guest preacher for someone famous (when listeners are expecting him, but get you instead)?  Would it be to preach with a loved one present who does not know the Lord?

Perhaps the greatest test of a preacher is not preaching, but not preaching, if you see what I mean?  Let me put it this way.  Perhaps the greatest test of you as a preacher has very little to do with your observed ministry in the pulpit, but a lot to do with what is unseen.  What if your listeners could watch you behind closed doors?  What if they saw how you treat your spouse and your children?  What if they could see the “real you” when no eyes are looking?

The truth is that we whisper-preach with our words, but we megaphone-preach with our lives.  I’m keeping this post short.  Today I’ve scheduled a day-off … handling school for the morning to give my wife the day off, and then something all together this afternoon.  Now the rubber meets the road!  Forget exams and big events and special sermons and ministry . . . perhaps today is the greater test!


6 thoughts on “Perhaps the Greatest Test?

  1. Very well said Peter….I think we (as Christians) can let a little too loose sometime when we are comfortable at home and I agree that those are the times that show our true colors.


  2. “You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” Oliver Goldsmith

    Have a wonderful time with your family (homeschooling and all :))! I’m sure you will pass this test as long as you keep Christ as the center of your life and your days :). May the Lord richly bless you and daily guide you as you continue to faithfully serve Him, obey Him, and desire to glorify Him in all you do!

  3. Ouch! I frequently, only by God’s grace, remind myself of what would my class think of me if they could see behind the closed door. This is an excellent reminder that someone once said something to the effect that “character is what you are when no one is looking.”

    Thank you for this hard hitting but needed shot in the arm!

  4. Peter, I received the following poem in an email today and I thought of your post here. Hope you like it :)!

    By Edgar A. Guest

    I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
    I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way,
    The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
    Fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear.
    And the best of all the preachers are men who live their creeds,
    For to see good in action is what everybody needs.

    I soon can learn it if you’ll let me see it done.
    I can watch your hands in action but your tongue too fast may run,
    And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true
    But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
    For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
    But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

  5. Good poem . . . although as a student of communication I would suggest that at least one of the lines is overblown – “Fine counsel is confusing . . . ” I’d suggest that is an internal contradiction. It’s easy to overplay the “preaching with words is rubbish” in order to emphasize the “preaching with life is powerful” concept. Wouldn’t want to undermine the key role of preaching, or the biblical emphasis on hearing and responding. Nevertheless, good poem!

  6. Good point, Peter. I agree. I think the poet’s intention was to say…Walk the Talk. I believe it should apply to all Christ’s followers, not just preachers and teachers. Are we being imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2), or of the world?

    “What does the unsaved world learn when it reads us? Is the letter clear and distinct, or blotted and blurred? Do the unsaved have a clearer vision of Christ, or is their opinion of Him lessened by what little of Him they see written in our lives and attitudes?” ~G.M.Landis

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