You Ought to Be a Better Preacher than Me

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  • My father let me preach his early worship service one Sunday.

    I don’t remember what I preached. But I am sure it was nothing special. I can only hope it was a boy preacher’s best effort to preach faithfully.

    After the service, I was passing through the church lobby, when I received an unlikely compliment. A brother stopped me and said, “Good job this morning, Junior. You are turning into a great preacher. You are going to be better than the old man in a minute.”

    I was just a boy. But I wasn’t crazy. I knew what this brother was doing. He was a vocal and persistent opponent of my father’s ministry. His kind words to me were really just a cut against my dad.

    When I made it to my father’s study, I could not resist the temptation to tell him what the brother said. I am not sure how I expected my father to respond. To my surprise, he used it as a teaching moment.

    My dad responded…

    “He’s right. You ought to be a better preacher than me. And if you don’t become a better preacher than me, you have failed.”

    My brain almost exploded. My father was the best preacher in the world to me. How could I – or anyone, for that matter – be a better preacher? I needed an explanation.

    My father began to tell me about the limited training, opportunities, and resources he had as a young preacher. He predicted that I would develop my ministry surrounded by aids and advantages he never imagined. He concluded by saying,

    “Son, you have no excuse for not becoming a good preacher.”

    He was right.

    If slightly nudged into a corner, I can give a list of disadvantages I have had to overcome in my life and ministry. But the truth is I have been blessed beyond measure with good tools, study resources, ministry opportunities, godly examples, and supportive people who have facilitated my spiritual and ministerial development.

    There is no way I am anywhere near the caliber of preacher my father was. But I have no excuse for not being a good preacher.

    Neither do you.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

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