There are many thankless jobs awaiting applicants. Medical and non-profit organizations are proper examples of industries that offer irreplaceable services; yet, they receive little praise. Being a preacher is no less a thankless service. I am not a preacher, but having been raised by one, worked with one, and looked up to one, I can testify to the truthfulness of that statement. This being true, please ponder some evidences for this claim, and consider a few ways by which you can support your local preacher.
The apostle Paul sacrificed as a preacher and apostle only to be constantly ridiculed and have his intentions questioned. Paul implied no less when writing 1 Thessalonians. This great preacher was treated spitefully in Philippi for teaching the gospel (1 Thess. 2:2), and even though he had spoken to those in Thessalonica with no deceit (2:3), without flattering words (2:5), and being as gentle as a mother to her children (2:7), there was apparently some criticism of Paul in his absence that warranted the apostle to justify himself in this first letter to the church. Similar circumstances prompted the same preacher to defend himself to the Corinthians in his absence; read 1 Corinthians 4 and 2 Corinthians 10 for proof. These and a host of like experiences are most likely why Paul encouraged his young protégé Timothy to, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” (2 Timothy 2:3). Likewise, after warning the elders at Ephesus that they would have to stop the mouths of wolves (false teachers) who would sneak into the church, Paul gives example of just how much energy this would require: “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears,” (Acts 20:31). The job of a preacher is physically draining, mentally exhausting, faith challenging, and sometimes soul wrenching. Just because you shake the preacher’s hand on Sunday morning and he says, “I’m doing alright,” doesn’t mean he is calm on the inside. Indeed, dealing with the problems that accompany the job can very well make the preacher sick and require a prescription (1 Timothy 5:23).
With a preacher’s job being what it is, contemplate avenues by which you can lighten his load. There are a host of simple tasks any individual can carry out that will motivate the preacher and make his work for God a little easier. First, do not aimlessly complain about the preacher behind his back. Paul warns against backbiting in 2 Cor. 12:20, not to overshadow bitterness and evil speaking in Ephesians 4:29. The golden rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” will help guard against this. Ask the question, “Am I any better than the preacher in the thing I am complaining about?” Furthermore, “Will complaining about this detail do any good?” One unknown author distinguished between constructive criticism and complaining similar to this: pointing out flaws in someone or something without offering a solution is complaining. Constructive criticism offers resolution and edification. Second, offer the preacher your time and service. Many times, preachers are burdened with tasks that do not require a preacher. Paul commended Phoebe of the congregation in Rome because, “She has been a helper of many and of myself also.” John Maxwell in his book The 21 Irrefutable Law of Leadership speaks to the importance of leaders empowering followers and delegating to them appropriately. Unfortunately, there is often a shortage of Phoebe’s who are willing to offer their time and pick up delegation. Third, give the preacher a token of appreciation. Paul spoke of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus in this manner, “What was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men,” (Romans 16:17-18). Many subconsciously believe the preacher is such a confident individual, secure in his faith, so much so that he never grows weary and should never need someone giving him affirmation. Recall the burden that accompanies the work of preaching. A thank you card will suffice. Whatever the case, encourage the preacher in the work of God.
There are many preaching jobs awaiting applicants. There are many congregations starving for an evangelist to establish them. People wonder why there are not more young men chomping at the bit to preach. There are many factors that contribute to this present-day dilemma, but one factor has a simple resolution. Support your local preacher.