Mail order houses publish catalogs advertising the goods they have for sale. Seed companies advertise seed for many different kinds of beans, tomatoes or clover. Observation reveals that not all preachers are of the same variety. Below are a few of the different kinds of preachers I have encountered in more than a half century in the kingdom.
* There are the big preachers. I speak not of physical size. Some 125 pounders
aspire to be big men in the church. They crave recognition, influence and power
over others. Some are driven to preach for the biggest congregations, or perhaps
the most wealthy or influential. Usually they will tell you how great and important
they are (,Prov. 27:2).
* There are little preachers. These are humble servants of Christ whose work is unnoticed beyond the church they serve. They are as happy to minister to 40 as to 400. They seek no fame. They do not promote themselves. They do not tread on others in order to be successful. They are content to labor in the shadow of the great ones. But it is largely because of their faithful service that the church prospers and grows. Like the Psalmist, they are happy to be humble doorkeepers in the house of God (Ps. 84:10).
* There are political preachers. These fall into two sub-groups. Occasionally we see the preacher who would like to be elected to some public office. The other kind dabbles in brotherhood politics. Technically we have no politics in the Lord's kingdom, but some preachers imagine themselves to be president of the brotherhood or governor of their state or perhaps mayor of the churches in the city they serve. To be more accurate we could compare them to the diocesan bishops of Catholicism. Peter calls them "meddlers in other men's matters" (I Pet. 4:15).
* There are some "dandy" preachers. A dandy is "a man unduly attentive to dress." Synonyms for this type are fop, coxcomb, popinjay, beau, jackanapse, peacock, fashion-hound. Such men are more attentive to the outward man than the inner man. Some imagine themselves to be body-builders, others, fashion models, others, power-dressers. Such men are adverse to physical work. They must have others do all of that, while they manage their hair or wardrobe. The words of Peter to Christian women apply to them. "Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning....of putting on apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart..." (I Pet. 3:3-4).
* There are climbing preachers. You are familiar with climbing roses, climbing beans and cucumbers. There is a kind of preacher who is always more interested in climbing up the ladder of greatness than in staying in one place and doing the hard work of building up the kingdom of Christ. Rather than stay 20 years and build a church of 400, he will leave his congregation of 50 and seek a position in a congregation of 400 built by someone else.
* There are wandering preachers. These brethren seem to be smitten with a wandering spirit. They are quickly bored with a church. They expect instant success and if it is not forth coming, they are ready to look for another place. They are not looking for greatness, just something new and different, something better. This same spirit is seen in workers in other occupations. Such men take up a work with a congregation, stay a year or so and move on. The church has not increased during their short stay. Gypsy types rarely accomplish much for the Lord.
* There are showman preachers. They should have been in the entertainment business or the theater. They have a deep need to shine and be applauded. Without such attention they pine and melt away.
* There are fearful preachers. They are weak, timorous men who lack the fortitude to stand against opposition. They will faithfully preach God's truth so long as everyone is happy and supportive, but let an adversary arise and their spirit fails them. They are like the watchdog that will not bark (Is. 56:10).
* There are the "hear no evil, see no evil" preachers. They work hard at ignoring sin and problems. They work on the basis that if they don't know of bad things, then they will have no responsibility to deal with them. Many politicians have this same condition. When asked about some wrong doing in their congregation, such preachers protest that they know nothing about it. Like the little kid who covers his eyes and plugs his ears when scared, these preachers have eyes but see not and ears but hear not (Matt. 13:13).
* There are warrior preachers. They know only that one aspect of the preacher's occupation. Yes, we must be good soldiers of Christ (II Tim. 2:3), but we must also be soul-winners, burden-bearers, church planters, builders and repairmen (Eph. 4:14-15). Something is amiss in the man who is constantly at war with others...especially if he is always fighting against fellow-Christians.
* There is the one issue preacher. Some have described them as "Johnny one-note preachers." God's word provides material for hundreds of topics and themes. But a man has to "mine" the materials and fashion them into lessons for the church. My mother once said of the preacher where she worshiped, "No matter what he calls his sermon, it comes out faith, repentance and baptism." The one issue preacher has failed to understand the "work of an evangelist" (II Tim. 4:5).
* There is the scholar type of preacher. He may or may not be a brilliant scholar, but he prefers to spend his time reading books and studying obscure texts rather than working with people. He is more comfortable with Hebrew and Greek moods and tenses than with bewildered souls trying to find their way to heaven.
* There is the agitating preacher. It seems that everywhere he goes, a squabble erupts to harm the church. Such men have no people skills. They usually have a high opinion of themselves and their own ideas. They tend to stoke problems rather than resolve them (Tit. 3:10). Left unchecked, they can literally destroy a congregation.
* There is the sterile preacher. He produces no fruit. Paul wanted to have some fruit among the Romans (Rom. 1:13). Jesus wants his disciples to "go and bear fruit" (John 15:16). A man may find himself working in sterile ground where people will not receive with meekness the engrafted word of God (Jas. 1:21). The failure to find converts is not his fault. But there are some who are like the barren tree mentioned by John the Baptizer, "Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Luke 3:9). Most often the sterile preacher fails to produce fruit for Christ because he does not work at it diligently. Sometimes his life defeats his efforts. As the old saw has it, "How can they believe what you are saying when what you are is forever thundering in their ears?"
The church needs thousands of little preachers who will go forth and bear much fruit for Christ.
By John Waddey
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