I am enjoying the book The Preacher’s Catechism, written by Lewis Allen. If you are pastor, you should get this book and devour it first and then go back and reread it slowly and prayerfully. It is full of wonderful encouragement and penetrating statements that will help you as a minister of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I came across one of those items in my reading today, and I share it with you to provoke thought and, maybe, discussion.
“Preaching looks, to all the world and sometimes to the church, like an easy ticket. Those who feel the weight of God’s call know that in fact it is hard work.In the last sermon he ever prepared for a pastors’ gathering (he actually died before he delivered it), John Flavel warned his fellow laborers of this”:
“The labors of the ministry will exhaust the very marrow from your bones, hasten old age and death” (Luther). They are fittingly compared to the toil of men in harvest, to the labours of a woman in travail, and to the agonies of soldiers in the dangers of battle. We must watch while others sleep.
It is not so much the expense of our labours, as the loss of them, that kills us. It is not with us, as with other labourers. They find their work as they leave it, not so with us. Sin and Satan unravel almost all we do, the impressions we make on our people’s souls in one sermon, vanish before the next. How many truths have we to study! How many strategies of Satan, and mysteries of corruption to detect! How many cases of conscience to resolve! We must fight in defence of the truths we preach, as well as study them to paleness, and preach them unto faintness. But well-spent head, heart, lungs, and all; welcome pained breasts, aching backs, and trembling legs; if we can by all but approve ourselves Christ’s faithful servants, and hear that joyful voice from his mouth, ‘Well done, good and faithful servants.'”
Source: John Flavel, The Character of a True Evangelical Pastor, Drawn by Christ, in the works of John Flavel, 6:569 as quoted in “The Preacher’s Catechism” by Lewis Allen, p. 52