I’ve recently been reading Michael Reeves’ excellent book, Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ (Crossway, 2018). As you would expect, Spurgeon said a lot that can be helpful to preachers. I’d like to share some quotes and chat about them, but be sure to buy the book and have a helpful read!
“Great hearts are the main qualifications for great preachers.” (p28) Too often we fall into thinking that a great preacher is made by great learning, or great skill, or great presentation, or even great personality, but Spurgeon is pushing deeper here. He is pointing to the relational core of the preacher and saying that to be a great preacher, we need to be in a very healthy relationship with Christ, with self, and with others. The problem is that many preachers have character issues that others excuse as personality quirks. Great learning, great skill, great force of character, and so on do not compensate for problems at the core of a person. Hear more of Spurgeon:
“A man must have a great heart if he would have a great congregation. His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbors along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet. When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven, and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship. Such a man is hearty in private as well as in public; his blood is not cold and fishy, but he is warm as your own fireside. No pride and selfishness chill you when you approach him; he has his doors all open to receive you, and you are at home with him at once. Such men I would persuade you to be, every one of you.”
We live in an age of perpetual noise, of constant distraction, of increasingly accepted narcissism. The 21st century is not the ideal time to grow the kind of heart that Spurgeon describes here, but we must. Perhaps it is time to put our phones on silent, turn off the social media, and invest time into private prayer, personal enrichment and enriching fellowship. Have a conversation. Read a book. Intercede for dear folks in your church.
We cannot be corporate managers of churches and expect spiritual results. We are in the business of heart change. May our hearts lead the way.