Some years ago there was a big fuss about whether professional athletes should be allowed to participate (even unpaid) in the Olympic Games. Now it is hard to fathom what some of the unpaid athletes are receiving in sponsorship, so the issue has faded. I think preachers should be both professional and amateur, but also neither. Let’s explore this:
Preachers should be professional in the following ways –
1. As well trained as possible. I am not making an absolute standard. It is impossible to do so. But preachers should take advantage of the best training that is available to them. Training will not make a preacher, but it can help. In fact, a lot of resistance to training is born out of personal insecurity and/or pride. There is a lot that can be learned from others in terms of biblical study skills, homiletical practice and so on. Preaching with constructive feedback can be priceless. So whether the extent of the training available is taking advantage of free online courses, or a local seminar, or pursuing a mentor, or a Doctor of Ministry degree – surely we should take the privilege of preaching seriously and get the best training we can find and afford.
2. As well informed as possible. I wouldn’t want to visit a physician that is fully qualified, but hasn’t looked at a medical journal since graduating in 1956. There is something about remaining informed that is part of what it is to be professional. For preachers I suppose this means we should be readers. Voracious readers of the Bible first and foremost. Always going deeper, learning more, growing closer to the Lord. And also reading helpful books on preaching (there is no end to the stream of new ones, but search for those that will stretch, not just reinforce the same perspective you already hold dear). There may even be a magazine or blog that keeps you on your toes!
3. As well skilled as possible. The training and the study has a goal in sight. Here is the good side of professionalism. Being the best that we can be. We must never rely on ourselves. Ours is neither a sport nor a job. But surely we cannot please the Lord by choosing to be less than the best stewards of the opportunity to preach? Let’s continually bare our soul before Him and ask Him to help us do our part better and better – not for any credit to our account, but because we are so hungry to give everything for Him who gave His all for us.
Tomorrow I’ll ponder some of the perils of a professional mindset…