Reflections on My Role
NOTE: I wrote this reflection as a result of a personal study I did on the role of preachers back in 1999. I posted it to this web site a year later. I have recently discovered much of it reproduced on another minister's web site presented as his own work. I place this note here merely to state that this reflection is my own and that I did not plagarize it from from that minister's web site.
Over the last few years, I have come to have a firmer grasp as to what my role is after careful study and reflection. It seems that while there is a general consensus across the brotherhood of what an elder is, there is not a consensus when it comes to preachers. "Qualifications," "qualities" and "job descriptions" vary widely from church to church. I made the conscious decision to see if the Bible doesn't give some solid instruction for preachers.
As a result, I have come to understand that my first and foremost role in the body is to bring others to an active relationship with God as Lord (Eph 4:11-16). My goal is not merely to preach or to teach. Preaching and teaching are the means that I as a preacher use to meet the goal. I am to assist other leaders as a team in helping to body to grow up. So, the goal of my ministry in one word is maturity.
My role as a preacher is a triad of three functions to successfully meet the goal of preaching.
The first part of my role is preacher. While my goal is to help others to grow up into maturity, one of my major functions to meet that goal is to preach and teach, which is why the Bible calls me a "Gospel Preacher" (euaggelistes), and a "Preacher" or "Herald" (kerux). This is first and foremost. I could be involved in a lot of things as a full-time preacher. However, if my preaching and teaching suffers because of it, then I am not fulfilling my role in the body.
Preaching initially involves sharing the Gospel, which is the power of salvation (Rom 1:16). Even though response to the Gospel is a first step, it is a full conversion (Rom 6:3-6). This means that response to the Gospel is not just about receiving the gift of forgiveness, but also about a complete change in ones life (Col 2:8 - 4:6). Faithful preaching involves attention to these things as they are taught in the word.
The word is what nourishes us. If I fail to prepare it properly, the hearers will either get sick, or not eat at all. I am a master "chef" of the word who has been taught the skills and given the tools to prepare spiritual meals. Since I am to be "kind to all, able to teach," and "correct with gentleness," (2 Tim 2:24-25), my meals need to be seasoned properly. They need to be palatable, digestible, nutritious, and in small enough portions to be able to chew on. If I fail in this role, the long-term result will be a sickly congregation, which I would be accountable for. But speaking is not the only feeding I do. As a "chef" of God's word, I feed others not only through preaching, but by example as well (1 Tim 4:12). After all, example, though it may be a small thing, has great nutritional value and is perhaps the most appetizing thing I can give.
There are so many people that are malnourished who need to learn how to feed themselves and how to feed others. So part of my function is to equip others to become chefs of God's word so they may learn to feed themselves (Eph 4:12ff).
The second part of my role is that of a trainer (2 Tim 2:2). All of the preparation of meals without any sort of training will cause spiritual obesity in the congregation. The reason we eat is to have energy to work and serve. Christians are to ultimately put on their running shoes so they may run the race with endurance (Heb 12:1). As a trainer, my role is to equip the runners for the work of ministry by challenging them to be sensitive to ministry opportunities and put what they learn into practice. Each person has a ministry and an important part in the Lord's body. There are a lot of overweight and out-of-shape people in the church who need to train for works of service. After all, we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10).
The third part of my role involves keeping healthy (1 Tim 4:16; 2 Tim 1:16). In preparing meals for others and training them, I need to do the same. This means I need to take courses on becoming a better chef. I need to read and always be learning new recipes and new ways of preparing the same food. I need to train myself with regular exercise. I need time to reflect on my service I do and if I am being pleasing to God. I need to go to Chef's retreats. I need to realize that I have not been indoctrinated with all the answers and know how in school. Instead I have been given the tools to grow. I need to realize that I am a life-long student otherwise I will not be "adequate" for the task (2 Tim 3:14-17).
My role as a preacher is distinct yet complementary with other roles in the body (Eph 4:11). I, along with other leaders, share the same goal with them but fulfill it in distinct ways, as outlined above. I hope to be able to fulfill my role well with the blessing of God. My goal is to formulate a "game plan" that will help meet the goal and vision of my ministry. As always, thanks be to the God and father of us all.