Praise God for Influential Preachers

I just read an article from Preaching magazine –25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years. The title should be “preachers” rather than “pastors” in any strict sense of the term’s current usage. Anyway, it is worth reading.  I’m sure some would be quick to criticise how American the list is, but that is always a cheap and easy critique.  What struck me was how many of these preachers have blessed me in recent years (and I don’t spend much time listing to famous preachers).

I would encourage you to read the article and give thanks for these and other well-known preachers who have faithfully sought to serve God through their ministries.  It is easy to critique the famous, but actually it must be hard to be in their positions, perhaps facing some unique stresses that most of us don’t face.

Perhaps the list might suggest some names that you haven’t heard before, leading you to trawl the web for a sermon by E.K.Bailey, or W.A.Criswell, or Fred Craddock.  Or someone who doesn’t fit in your theological or ecclesiological comfort zone . . . anyone from Adrian Rogers, to Bill Hybels, to William Willimon, to Stephen Olford, to Warren Wiersbe, to Rick Warren, to Jack Hayford, to Tim Keller, etc.  Have you observed Andy Stanley preach?  Have you

Maybe this kind of list has a handful of preachers that you have really been blessed by over the years – stop and give thanks for them.  I’m delighted to see Haddon Robinson on there, I know many who would give thanks for the influence of John Piper in their lives, I have friends who have been so blessed by John Stott, and other friends who have faithfully tuned in to Chuck Swindoll, and of course, there are numerous people I know who would count Billy Graham as the preacher God used to reach them with the gospel.

As with all lists, we could add others who would be on our personal list. Famous, or not, we do well to pause and give thanks for preachers God has used in our lives over the years.  I fondly remember the hours I spent listening to George Verwer messages while going through university – how making a quick meal of pasta could stretch into the afternoon as God dealt with and encouraged me through George’s preaching.  Or the Calvary Chapel preacher whose tapes I would rewind incessantly as I took copious notes in my black chair with my feet on the bed.  Or the seminary prof who preached in class every morning at 8am . . . Bruce Fong it was a pleasure to study God’s Word with you, man O man, what a privilege!

Check Your Dashboard

I remember a few years ago hearing a message by Bill Hybels.  He spoke about the gauges on his personal dashboard.  If my memory serves me well, he said that his spiritual gauge was looking good, but something was wrong.  He was heading for burnout, but not because of spiritual issues.  He said that he learned there were more gauges than just spiritual.  If you remember the message, feel free to comment and correct my ten year memory.  But the point is a good one.

What is the reading on your spiritual gauge?  Are you walking in step with the Spirit, living close to Jesus and spending time in His presence through His Word?  What about your emotional gauge?  Are you taking time to rest, to laugh, to play, to wrestle with your children or enjoy a walk in creation?  What about your physical gauge?  Are you getting the sleep you need, ingesting healthy fuel and burning energy (and stress) through running, gym-time, judo or traditional native dance?  And let’s ask about the mental gauge too.  Are you being stimulated in your thinking through a variety of reading, some stretching, some relaxing, some outside your primary areas of focus, etc.  And what about stimulating conversation?  That may be hard to come by, but in the context of healthy relationships, it can work wonders on all four gauges!

Whatever gauges you have on your dashboard, take a reading from all of them.  It could be devastating to be looking at only one of them and find yourself burning out unawares.