Preaching Advice for Busy Pastors

Preaching Advice for Busy Pastors

As Spurgeon used all his experiences to shape himself and his preparation. All this was only possible as Spurgeon maintained his walk with the Lord, guarded his time, and made preaching part of his lifestyle. So it is today, as pastors face a busy schedule, we must prioritize the preaching of the Word and give ourselves to preaching excellent, earnest, faithful sermons. 

C.H. Spurgeon, maybe more than any pastor, knew how busy pastoral ministry can be. In addition to preaching four times a week, he led his elders and deacons in caring for a church of five thousand. Together, they visited members, interviewed membership applicants, led prayer meetings, chaired congregational meetings, pursued non-attenders, and much more. Additionally, Spurgeon published a weekly sermon, wrote numerous books, edited a monthly magazine, served as president of The Pastors’ College, oversaw two orphanages, corresponded with hundreds weekly, planted churches, supported denominational efforts, and the list goes on. The scale of Spurgeon’s ministry in the 19th century remains unmatched. But the essence of his work wasn’t all that different from any pastor today: caring for members, leading worship gatherings, training church leaders, overseeing benevolence and evangelistic efforts, engaging in church associations, and, as with Spurgeon, the list just keeps going. To some extent, these are the kinds of things that will fill up every pastor’s task list.

And yet Spurgeon would say that the most important thing to which he gave himself week after week was the preaching of the Word. Spurgeon once said to his students,

Brethren, you and I must, as preachers, be always earnest in reference to our pulpit work. Here we must labor to attain the very highest degree of excellence. Often have I said to my brethren that the pulpit is the Thermopylae of Christendom: there the fight will be lost or won. To us ministers the maintenance of our power in the pulpit should be our great concern, we must occupy that spiritual watch-tower with our hearts and minds awake and in full vigor. It will not avail us to be laborious pastors if we are not earnest preachers.[1]

Just as the future of Greece depended on King Leonidas’ stand against the Persians, so the future of the church depends on the faithful and earnest preaching of the Word of God.

In other words, Spurgeon believed that every other ministry in the church, as important as they were, existed downstream from the pulpit. Rather than all church ministries existing independently of one another, with the corporate gathering simply being one more silo, Spurgeon envisioned the corporate gathering as the central ministry of the church (the “Thermopylae,” if you will). And in that corporate gathering, it is the Word of God preached (and sung and read and prayed) that gives life to God’s people and energizes all the ministries of the church. This vision of the power of God’s Word to revive God’s people drove Spurgeon’s commitment to preaching. Amid the busyness of pastoral ministry, here was the one thing that could not fail. No matter the pressures and responsibilities, for the sake of his people, he had to give himself to preaching excellent sermons.

What advice would Spurgeon give to busy pastors today regarding their preaching? How can we be faithful in this primary responsibility without neglecting other ministerial duties? Here are three ideas.

This would likely be the most important advice Spurgeon would give:

Maintain your walk with the Lord.

This would likely be the most important advice Spurgeon would give:

Too many preachers forget to serve God when they are out of the pulpit, their lives are negatively inconsistent. Abhor, dear brethren, the thought of being clockwork ministers who are not alive by abiding grace within, but are wound up by temporary influences; men who are only ministers for the time being, under the stress of the hour of ministering, but cease to be ministers when they descend the pulpit stairs. True ministers are always ministers.[2]

In other words, don’t separate your devotional life from your ministerial duties. Instead, understand that the Holy Spirit must guide your life not only when you are “on the clock” but also in your private life.

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