Counsel For Young Preachers
(Bethlehem Baptist Church--July 9, 2001)
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out." (Proverbs 20:5) “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. “Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. “Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.” (Proverbs 4:5-8)
The following thoughts are not meant to be taken as the “last word” in Wisdom for young preachers! These are just some thoughts that will hopefully "prime the pump" and give us a starting place. (Some may be wise, others not. “Eat the meat and spit out the bones!”) Many other valuable things can be (and will be) added.
You might want to take this list and pray over it from time to time. (e.g. “Lord, I’m looking at number 11 here on this list. Is this something you want me to pay special attention to right now?”)
1. Remember that God, and not man, is ultimately to be your source of Wisdom. Well-intentioned men may give bad advice!
2. Don’t expect to learn everything all at once. Be committed to life-long learning.
3. Have a realistic understanding of your limitations. God doesn’t expect you to do everything.
4. Seek to set an example to others of what it means to live by faith and trust God to meet all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
5. Learn how to be bold and loving at the same time.
6. Make a commitment to a lifelong study of God's Word and be disciplined enough to keep studying even when you don't feel like it!
7. Learn how to study the Bible effectively. Learn how to word studies. Learn how to run cross-references. Consider obtaining a good Bible-study CD. Find a balance between using commentaries as a crutch and refusing to learn from godly men who may have excellent insights into the scripture.
8. Collect illustrations. Make notes or start a file. Personal illustrations are very powerful, but your memory may fail you!
9. Learn how to put together an effective sermon. Pay special attention to a good opening and a good closing. Know where you're going to stop!
10. Be alert to the particular ways Satan likes to attack preachers (e.g., discouragement; pride; sex; laziness; fear). Know where your own personal weaknesses are and learn how to do effective Spiritual Warfare.
11. Keep a teachable spirit. Ask God for a friend (or a wife!) who will be totally and ruthlessly honest with you. (For example, ask them to help you eliminate mannerisms or habits that may be distracting from the message.)
12. Ask God for a mentor--a wise man who has been in the ministry for many years who is willing to spend time with you and give you his best counsel.
13. Find the balance between learning from other preachers and trying to be exactly like them. Remember that God has created you to be a very unique preacher. Don't try too hard to be exactly like someone else.
14. Realize that different preachers have different gifts and will therefore have different emphases in the ministry. One of most frustrating things in the world is trying to imitate the ministry of someone who has a different Spiritual gift than your own gift.
15. Carry breath mints.
16. Develop a strategy for counseling. Learn how to be a good listener. Learn how to take good notes. Learn what Scriptures can help the most when people come to you with problems.
17. Learn how to rejoice when God seems to be blessing others more than he seems to be blessing you!
18. Spend time listening to great preachers.
19. Practice reading the Bible out loud, especially the passage you intend to read in your next message.
20. Find a place to get alone and practice preaching out loud.
21. Learn to vary the pace and volume of your voice in order to use it to communicate most effectively.
22. Remember, "A preacher who is one step ahead of his people will be a leader. A preacher who is two steps ahead of his people will be a martyr."
23. Try to surround yourself and work closely with people who have Spiritual Gifts different from yours so that you can complement each other in getting God's work done.
24. When you have done your best to prepare and preach a message that you believe God intended for you to preach, don't allow yourself to be discouraged by your emotions or by a lack of outward response after the message.
25. Stay humble enough to recognize that you have a lot to learn from others. Watch out for arrogance! Keep growing in the Lord.
26. Keep the fire burning! If people around you don't seem to have much enthusiasm for the Lord, don't allow them to quench your own zeal. Try to have at least one friend that you can spend time with from time to time who is excited about the Lord.
27. Be patient with people who can't see what you see, who don't seem to be excited, or don't seem to be growing like you think they should.
28. Be prepared for fiery trials. Learn how to help others who are going through fiery trials of their own.
29. Keep memorizing Scripture. Get as much of God's Word in your heart as you can.
30. When preaching a hard point, practice using the pronoun "we" more than the pronoun "you."
31. Ask God to give you a "project." (For example: a Bible study project; a sermon series; a ministry project; etc.)
32. Be very careful and wise in the way you relate to the opposite sex! Never counsel a woman alone. Learn how to "hug" in a discreet and godly way.
33. Spend plenty of time alone with the Lord.
34. Practice praising and worshipping the Lord with all your heart. Set an example in the way you worship for others to follow.
35. Be faithful with God's tithe. Be a generous giver.
36. Learn to graciously say, "No". Don't accept responsibilities just because someone else tries to burden you with them. People may expect you to do what God does not want you to do!
37. Watch your priorities! You can fill up your time doing “good” things and not get around to doing what God really wants you to do!
38. Learn to distinguish the “important” things from the mere “urgent” things.
39. Poke less fun at others and poke more fun at yourself!
40. Carry a notepad. Don’t trust your memory.
The following points were made by various preachers during the meeting on Monday evening, July 9, 2001. I tried to take accurate notes, but please let me know if changes need to be made! Steve Hall
41. When preaching, try to make and keep eye contact with as many people as possible.
42. Stay filled with the Holy Spirit.
43. Work hard to improve your use of the English language.
44. Work to increase your vocabulary.
45. Make recordings of your sermons and listen to them repeatedly in order to learn how to improve your delivery.
46. Be very conscious of the way you dress. Remember that you represent the Lord.
47. Don’t be intimidated by large crowds. Remember that most everyone there is on your side! They are for you!
48. Be humble. Be willing to preach wherever God gives you an opportunity to preach, whether the place is small or large.
49. Don’t worry about how long you have preached. Just make sure you have something to say. Don’t keep rambling when your sermon is over.
50. Be Holy! Live what you preach!
51. Listen to criticism, whether it’s from your wife or someone else. God uses it to instruct you!
52. Deliver your heart. Don’t worry about what people may be thinking.
53. Develop a tough hide. Be able to go on without discouragement even in the face of criticism.
54. Don’t allow yourself to get too busy with the things of life.
55. Remember that life is very fragile. Be sensitive to it.
56. Seek to live your life so that your testimony lives on after you are gone.
57. Stay Bible based.
58. Be prepared at all times. Always have a sermon ready in case you get an opportunity to preach.
59. Vary your preaching. Remember you must not only preach to the lost, you must preach to Christians at all stages of maturity and growth.
60. Accept God’s forgiveness for your past sins. Don’t let Satan beat you over the head with sins that have been forgiven!
61. Don’t base your theology on one verse!
62. Study the Word like FBI agents study genuine currency, so that you will be able to recognize counterfeits when they come along.
63. Help people grow. Disciple the Christians in your care.
64. Remember the greatest pitfall for a preacher is women! Never be alone with any woman except your wife.
65. Remember Satan knows your weaknesses. Guard yourself.
66. Be willing to stand firm on your convictions.
67. When counseling, always warn people that you do not have a degree in counseling. Don’t leave yourself open to a law suit!
68. Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
69. Don’t worry about the size of your ministry. Concentrate on getting usable in God’s hands. Deepen your walk with Him and leave it up to Him to broaden your ministry.
70. Be faithful where you are.
71. Before taking on the pastorate of a church, remember that they will only tell you the positive things. Remember that there is always more to the story!
72. Expect God to use strange circumstances to direct your life.
73. Remember your life is important to God. Your life means something.
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