Becoming a Better Preacher by Becoming a Better Pastor

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  • marshMedia08My father was a good preacher. People who heard my dad will tell you Junior cannot touch Senior when it comes to preaching.

    There are many preachers who have influenced my preaching. But my dad is at the top of the list.

    My dad would often tell me, “Son, I don’t want you to be a jackleg preacher.” I didn’t know what a “jackleg preacher” was. Still don’t. But I heard the term enough to know it was something I did not want to be.

    I hope I am or am becoming the kind of preacher my dad would be proud of. Moreover, I want to be the best preacher I can be to the glory of God.

    As I get older – and more mature, I hope – I increasingly want to be more than a good preacher. I want to be a good pastor.

    My dad was a good preacher. But when I meet my dad’s former church members, it is not his preaching they remember. They tell me of the weddings, funerals, hospital visits, counseling sessions, and other out-of-pulpit ways he served their families. They tell about children he got out of jail. They thank me for sacrifices he made to disciple or mentor them.

    My father was a well-dressed man. But I don’t often hear about how nice he dressed. I more often have someone to tell me my old man gave their first nice suit or pair of shoes.

    As good a preacher as my father was, people most often remember him as a pastor, not a preacher. Maybe the two go together. Impactful preachers have a shepherd’s heart of concern for their sheep. And faithful shepherds work hard to feed their flocks well.

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    Paul wrote to the Thessalonians…

     But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. – 1 Thessalonians 2:7

    For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

    As Paul taught the saints at Thessalonica, he did not commend himself to them as an apostle (or bishop or prophet or any of the titles preachers are so fond of these days). This pastor described himself as a gentle mother and nurturing father.

    • May the Lord help me be a pastor who is like a mother and father to those I serve!
    • May I give the congregation I lead the word and myself! 
    • May I become a better preacher by becoming a better pastor!

    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.