Article by Kenneth Kuykendall (original source the articulation of his message, but what else is happening? Most of us, if we have been around preaching for any length of time, have certain ideas of what takes place when the preacher begins and when he ends. But do we really know all that is going on during the preaching hour? Probably not…including the preacher himself.
Preaching is one of the strangest events known to man; so much so, that it is considered foolishness to those who do not believe; while at the same time, it is the power of God to us who are saved. It is a paradox of the grandest kind. It is the straining of worlds together. It is the calling of lowly men to the highest of errands. The pressure is great, the stakes are high, the tension is real, but the joy is overwhelming, the grace is sufficient and the reward is heavenly. I love preaching, both in hearing it and in doing it.
In that hour, however, more is going on than exposition, application, illustrations, and invitations. There are some things happening behind that pulpit (or away from it, depending on the style of your preacher) that you don’t realize. Here are five things you probably don’t know about your pastor when he preaches:
He is Battled
Whether you mount a pulpit weekly or preach on the street corner daily, there is great opposition in the proclamation of the gospel. On every side, the man of God is enamored, hit hard, with a variety of oppressive forces. The dark dominion of the devil sets its course against those on the frontlines of battle. There is nothing the enemy hates more than a truth-toting soldier equipped to tell others what the Word of God declares. And thus, oftentimes, the preacher is the biggest target.
The congregation may see a suit and tie. They may hear the alliterated points. They may write down a title on the back of a bulletin. But beyond the natural framework of the worship service is a supernatural foe doing all he can to discourage, distract, and divert the preacher. If preaching is war, it is certain your pastor is feeling the heat during the preaching hour.
He is Burdened and Bothered
I do not mean he is annoyed. Now, he may very well be annoyed at times; but what I mean by the word “bothered” is that he has a weight upon him. This weight is part of his calling. You cannot take the weight off him. Aaron and Hur did all they could to secure the hands of Moses during the battle at Rephidim. They helped Moses bear his load, but not once did they take the rod of God out of his hands. They couldn’t…it was God’s call upon his life to bear it.
The preacher, by nature of his calling, has a weight, a burden, a bothering. He is bothered by the sinfulness of the times. He is bothered by the apathy of modern Christendom. He is bothered by his own shortcomings. He is bothered by the tragedy of split homes, broken lives, hurting people. All that he preaches is preached from the context of information that you do not necessarily have. What I mean is this: he knows the secrets, the pain, the darkness, the sadness, and the sorrow of those he leads. And many times he preaches in that context.
He is Beckoned
The preacher must stand before God before he stands in front of his congregation. He is between two worlds. And he must give an account in both! Albert Mohler said it like this, “Let’s be honest: the act of preaching would smack of unmitigated arrogance and overreaching were not for the fact that it is God himself who has given us the task. In that light, preaching is not an act of arrogance at all but rather of humility. True preaching is never an exhibition of the brilliance or intellect of the preacher but exposition of the wisdom and power of God.”
The true, God-called preacher preaches every time with the judgment seat of Christ in mind. Every word, every statement, every point, every illustration…every time is divinely examined. This reality is always in the background and in the forefront. Deep is calling unto deep in the preaching hour. God is beckoning in the heart of His messenger. He is moving, He is working, He is speaking, and the preacher must fulfill His calling, he must proclaim God’s Word in light of this weighty truth.
He is Blessed
Don’t feel too sorry for the preacher of the Word. He may be battled, burdened, and a little bothered; but he is equally blessed. He is like the disciples who distributed the bread to the masses in the desert. Those men were responsible to feed the thousands, but they were privileged to see the miracle first hand.
The preacher has already tasted the glorious meal that he prepares for his congregation. He has been in the closet praying. He has searched out the treasures of Scripture. Like an excavator, he has found the heavenly gem and longs to show his audience the glorious riches of truth. He is blessed with spiritual blessings. It is certain, if the congregation is blessed by the preaching of God’s man, the man of God who is preaching is getting blessed as well!
He is Bound
The preacher is bound by his message. He cannot preach what he has not already chewed on. E.M. Bounds said, “The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself. His most difficult and laborious work must be with himself.” I cannot tell you how many times, during the preaching hour, God has illuminated truth, convicted me of sin, and prompted me by my very preaching.
The preacher who is bound to His message, His God, His calling, and His Bible is a preacher who will inevitably be free in the spirit during the hour of his preaching. No, you may never see these realities during the preaching hour, but I assure you, they are present. And if they are not, there is not much preaching going on.