The Humanity of Preachers

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  • Preachers are human beings! This may seem to be an unnecessary statement of the obvious. But it’s not. It’s something that need to be remembered by both people in the pew and people in the pulpit. Preachers are only human beings. They are not super-saints, preaching machines, or holy angels (By the way, I do not think the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3 are grounds for calling pastors “angels.”). We are just plain old men. Or plain young men, in my case. (And, by the way, I am being intentionally gender specific). We are men. This is something that we preachers seem to forget. I have often said that pulpit ministry can breed hypocrisy, if you are not careful. God uses preachers in a unique way to exalt the Savior, edify the saints, and evangelize the lost. But sometimes we allow the fact that God uses us to make us think that we are more than what we really are. People hold us in high esteem. And we allow that to cause us to act like we have reached a level of spiritual maturity that we, in fact, have not. And in some instances, we are just be sensitive to the fact that we ought to be examples of what we preach. And knowing that we fall short, we sometimes fall into the trap of being phonies, rather than being authentic. And then some men have leaders and members who are just looking for a way to attack them. Believe me, for the few pastors who are “celebrities”; there are hundreds more who faithfully labor for the Lord under excruciating conditions. And they are fearful of letting people around them see any kink in their armor. So they live out an image of what people think the preacher’s life is supposed to be, rather, than being who they really are, by the grace of God.

    So I thought I would just remind us all that preachers are human. We have good weeks and bad weeks just like you. We are loving and mean, just like you. We have circumstances in life to kick us around sometimes, just like you. If you faithfully attend corporate worship, there are times when show up even though you don’t feel like it. Well, guess what. There are some times we preachers don’t feel like showing up, even though we are the ones who are supposed to deliver the message of God. We are human! We face challenges with our faith, obedience, health, finances, mates, children, self-image, etc. just like every one else. So, members, please stop treating preaching like sanctified celebrities. And, preachers, let’s stop acting like we are sanctified celebrities. Pray for humility, openness, and diligence in your spiritual walk, so that the work of the Lord doesn’t come before the Lord of the work. Invite others to pray with and for you. Take a risk. Be yourself. Trust that God is faithful. And rejoice that God uses weak, sinful, limited human beings for his glory!

    “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)


    H.B. Charles Jr.

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