What to Look For In a Preacher
Not all preachers are created equal. Some are more helpful than others, and Scripture makes it plain that some preachers are downright dangerous because of their proliferation of false teaching. How can someone know who is a preacher worth listening to, and who isn’t? Here are 5 suggestions to look for in a preacher.
Preaching is not just about the message, it’s also about the messenger. The Bible lays out qualifications for church leaders that include a number of moral issues they must be free from (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Preachers are to be men of integrity. They must be good husbands and fathers, honest and hard working, sacrificial and generous servants. Even if someone has great skill in communicating God’s Word, it is not sufficient if they have significant character flaws. Preachers must be men of godliness.
The job of a preacher is to teach and preach God’s Word—it’s just that simple! Some preachers do a better job of this than others (1 Timothy 5:17), and all who share God’s Word must work to get better at this vital task. A good preacher is one who knows how to teach the Bible so that the people gain understanding and insight. They should be clear and concise with their content and not leave the congregation scratching their heads by the end of a sermon. Teaching the Bible with clarity is the expected requirement of a minister of the Word (Colossians 4:4).
A preacher must be a someone who is disciplined and self-controlled. They can’t be the kind of guy who is easily swayed by emotions or cultural trends, but should remain steadfast under the guidance of the Word. A good preacher will preach the Bible consistently. It is no gift to a congregation when they are not sure what they will get from Sunday to Sunday. The preacher should methodically open the Word and preach it week in and week out. That is the bread and butter of his ministry and the main food for the sheep he is charged to feed.
The Bible says some things that are offensive to the spirit of our age. A preacher must not allow this reality to determine whether he will share God’s Word with truthfulness and conviction or not. He must proclaim God’s truth as it is. It will mean that people will inevitably be offended and some will leave the church. It will sometimes invite scorn and hurt the popularity factor. But a good preacher never allows this to make him waver. With boldness from the Spirit, he is a messenger for the Lord and not an editor. He says what God says and makes no apologies for it.
Lastly, a preacher must preach Christ. In fact, if he is a faithful teacher of the Word, this will be a natural byproduct. The Bible is about Jesus, and Christ said so himself (Luke 24:44). Any preacher who is teaching the Bible but fails to make Christ the centre has failed to teach the Bible well. Let such pep talks or religious homilies be for inspirational speakers or Jewish Rabbis. But for the Christian community, we preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. A Christless preacher is a worthless preacher. The main thing must always be kept the main thing.