The Preacher as a Workman

The Preacher as a Workman

Just as a craftsman continues to learn how to make a better product, so the preacher needs to keep growing in his abilities. He should discuss his preaching with mentors and friends. He should regularly read books on homiletics. He should not be ashamed to take a class, attend a seminar, or participate in the Simeon Trust to develop further in his abilities. As a homiletics professor, I regularly tell my students that I am still learning and that I am one of them, a laborer with fellow laborers.

Over the past several months, whether at work, church, a friend’s house, or home, I have witnessed a number of finished projects. Wooden oak floors being restored to their original warm luster. An aged, beat-up stairwell with slippery steps patched, painted, and safe once again with new non-slip treads. Stained glass windows that once adorned a church installed into the RPTS library. A gorgeous, handcrafted circulation desk for the library installed near those windows. Café-style tables with thick walnut tops delivered for students to study and visit over. Double-hung, insulated windows replacing broken, single pane ones. New carpet with soft padding underneath laid down to create a warm den.

In each of these situations, I did not witness much – if any – of the work being done. I just saw the final product. But each time, one thing was clear. The project testified to the hard work and knowledgeable craftsmanship of the laborer. The work done left you with the confidence that if you were to see another project done by these individuals, you would find the same level of competence.

Such should be the case with each sermon the preacher brings to the people of God. The people listening should have confidence that the minister has worked hard to bring them a well-constructed message. For as Paul told Timothy as he labored at the church in Ephesus, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). This admonition suggests at least five ways preachers can improve their craft.

Remember you are to be a laborer. The word for workman (ἐργάτης) that Paul uses is a word for a common field laborer. They were men who knew how to work with their hands and get a job done. These are the type of workers that Jesus told us to pray for in Matthew 9:36-38, where the Lord uses the image of laborers going out into the fields and harvesting the grain as a reminder in part of what a pastor should be.

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