Christmas break of 2012 is one that I remember very fondly. I had just finished my first semester of my freshman year at college, and though I didn’t know it at the time, it was the last Christmas I would spend with my Dad. Oddly enough, it was also the very first time that I got behind a pulpit in a regularly scheduled meeting of a church and preached a full-length sermon. Dad had let me preach in church a handful of times as a teenager, but never more than five minutes. I still remember my shock when I asked him how long he wanted me to go. “About twenty-five to thirty minutes should be fine,” he replied. “You mean you’re not preaching after me?” I responded. It is a very special memory to me now, because not only was it the first full sermon I preached, but it was the only one my Dad got to hear.
At the time I thought it was kind of odd that I was twenty years old and preaching for the first time in a service, when I had been called to preach at the age of twelve. Looking back I understand why he had waited. He wanted to teach me that ministry is not getting up in front of people on Sunday morning; it is serving every day of your life for the glory of God. Sure he taught me how to make an outline, choose a passage, and all of the other homiletical necessities. But his greatest training sessions were when we would go to sweep and mop the church floors, mow the lawn before Sunday, or get the sound equipment all set up. I remember him taking me door knocking, on hospital visits, and out to help church members with whatever he could do to be a blessing. That is ministry, being a servant to the people God entrusted you with.
Now don’t misunderstand me, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is the most important part of being a pastor (Acts 6:4). But if it is not coming from a heart of love and humility, it is all going to be hot air. Many a “preacher boy” wants to get up and preach his perfectly alliterated exposition of Romans chapter six on Sunday so everyone can pat them on the back and tell them they are a good kid, but are they willing to clean the church on Saturday and get no recognition for it? There is so much more to being a Pastor than just preaching, and the way Dad taught that lesson to me was to not let me preach as much as I wanted. I am glad he didn’t let me preach as much as I wanted, but instead helped me to learn the heart of the ministry.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”20