The preacher should live as a preacher, watching his life and doctrine. The preacher should also labor as a preacher, giving himself to the hard work of prayer and the ministry of the word. And the preacher should lead as a preacher.
The pastor is often judged by the work he does outside of the pulpit more than the work he does in it. Yet there is no biblical dichotomy between the pastor as a preacher and the pastor as a leader. Preaching is leadership!
First and foremost, the pastor-teacher is charged to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-2). His leadership should flow out of his preaching, not compete with it. In a real sense, expositional preaching should result in expositional leadership. As goes the pulpit, so goes the church.
Why should the pastor-teacher lead from the pulpit?
Preaching builds pastoral influence. Leadership is influence. Influence requires trust. Trust takes time. Your title does not give you credibility. Your character does. The best way to gain leadership influence is to live and preach the word. The power is in the pulpit, not the boardroom. Don’t go into meetings as if you are the C.E.O. of a corporation. Go to the pulpit as if you are the shepherd of a flock who labors in preaching and teaching.
Preaching develops biblical convictions. The primary job of the pastor-teacher is to make disciples who think and act biblically. The disciple-making process consists of teaching believers to obey the commands of Jesus. This is the heart of pastoral work. Preaching cultivates a biblical worldview in strategic ways nothing else can. Preach in such a way that helps your people understand what they believe and why they believe it.
Preaching regulates corporate worship. Many churches live with a divorced but cohabitating relationship between music and preaching. However, music in worship should be an extension of the ministry of the word (Colossians 3:16). The corporate worship of the local church should be word-centered. Sing, read, pray, preach, and enact the word in baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Preaching should be the compass that guides worship.
Preaching nurtures spiritual leadership. Paul passed the truth on to Timothy, who was to pass it on to faithful men who would be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). A church enjoys a legacy of spiritual leadership as faithful men teach the truth. The church should develop leaders through its pulpit ministry, not just personal mentorship. Teach the entire congregation what the biblical expectations of spiritual leadership, not just the leaders.
Preaching encourages mutual care. The Lord gives pastor-teachers to the church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). The pastor’s job is not to do all of the ministry. It is his job to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Pastors are not chaplains. Pastors are equippers who teach the saints to serve. Do not rob the church of the opportunity to strengthen their spiritual muscles through mutual care for one another.
Preaching provides spiritual counsel. Biblical preaching explains the meaning of the text and exhorts hearers to trust and obey the word of God. In counseling, pastors do personally and privately what they do corporately and publicly in preaching. Show people how to walk by the lamp and light of God’s word. The more work the preacher puts into preaching the less work the preacher should have to put into counseling.
Preaching summons Christian workers. The church is not a spectator sport. We believe and practice the priesthood of all believers. Every Christian is to be a participating member of the local church. Most church members get involved by personal invitation. But the pulpit should supply “air cover” by promoting high-commitment membership. Preaching should emphasize that Christlike service is essential to Christian discipleship.
Preaching models effective evangelism. Christians are challenged to witness. Unfortunately, they are not taught how to share their faith. Preaching should teach and model evangelism. Explain biblical truth clearly and carefully. Respond to spiritual objections with gentleness and respect. Directly address unbelieving hearers. Clearly present the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in every message you preach.
Preaching prioritizes church health. Pastors and churches should always prioritize church health over church growth. Congregational health consists of fidelity of doctrine, holiness of lifestyle, and unity of fellowship. Preaching should reject the bigger-is-better delusion. The pulpit keeps the main thing the main thing. Focus the church on its Christ-given mission. A Bible-teaching pulpit nurtures a Bible-regulated congregation.
Preaching establishes congregational stability. Church life is seasonal. Sunday days can turn into stormy days. Fruitfulness can be followed by barrenness. Times of growth can turn into plateau or decline. Trouble can arise in the congregation from without and within. Preaching the word in season and out of season stabilizes the church in season and out of season. Plant and water the seed of the word and trust the Lord to give the increase in due season.