Yesterday I urged us all to pursue a “professional” preaching ministry in the sense of being well trained, well informed and well skilled. But there are negative associations with professionalism that I think we would do well to ponder:
1. Don’t be contractually defined. It is hard to stomach professional sports-persons haggling over how many tens of thousands they should be paid each week, and refusing to play until they get what they want. Surely it is worse to sense similar issues with preachers. Obviously the sums involved are considerably smaller, but the idea that a preacher will tell of the glorious grace of God with a smile as long as his own contractual terms are in place is simply wrong. It is difficult when there are employment contracts involved, but surely we preach because of something other than money (and hopefully others will recognize their role in making sure the preachers are provided for appropriately)?
2. Don’t be selfishly driven. There is nothing wrong with receiving finance in association with preaching. Whether it is a regular stipend, or a loving palm gift, we thank God for any funding given in association with preaching. However, the moment a mercenary attitude creeps in, something is broken. A preacher should be giving of themselves, giving themselves away in ministry. While they shouldn’t starve to death in the process, surely it should be others that are concerned to make sure that doesn’t happen. And when it isn’t a matter of starving, but moving to higher levels of luxury, a preacher concerned with what is received seems to be a preacher who has lost their true focus.
3. Don’t be self-reliant. Another aspect of professionalism that we must be wary of is the idea of self-reliance. That is, the loss of prayerful dependence on God and the loss of humility and perceived weakness. Even the most skilled and capable and gifted individual is still stepping out beyond their own strengths when they open God’s Word before a gathering of people. Let’s be sure never to lose that sense of utter inadequacy as we preach.
What else would you add, either positively or negatively in association with professionalism?