Good Pastor but Poor Preacher?

Writing to Timothy Paul says, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach … And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2, 2 Timothy 2:24). Therefore the pastor must have the ability to preach and teach well. This does not mean that he has to be eloquent or use words that few understand, but he should be so rooted in the word of God that he can simply but effectively get his message across. The word “apt” in these verses can mean ready, prepared, able, skilful and qualified. Such ability does not come from man, but direct from the Holy Spirit

There are men who are doing the work of a pastor who have an earnest care for souls on an individual basis, but unfortunately cannot speak to a number of people in a preaching situation. This person is not qualified to lead a church, yet can be used by God to assist a pastor with Biblically counselling others. Also there are those who are good preachers but fail in other areas of pastorship, especially ministering to others personally. It would be better for him to step down from leadership so that he can fully use his gift as God intended. It should be noted that there are distinct ministries given to the church by God, “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The man used by God in pastorship must be “gentle unto all men”. Though he may have an initial love for his people, this love grows through personal interaction with them. His qualification in this area cannot be received second-hand but matures with each new experience he faces while pastoring the church. In this sense he has to daily learn to be a better servant to those God has given him. His qualifications to teach effectively also comes from the Holy Spirit as he studies the Word of God, “Study to show [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Therefore a pastor needs to know how to handle the word of God correctly. If he is not able to preach or teach well enough to get his message across then he is not really being used by God, “ For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air” (1 Corinthians 14:8-9). He may not amaze people with his word power, but others will recognise the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him. Those the vessel does not matter, what is inside the vessel does. Writing to Titus Paul says of a pastor / bishop that he should hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (1:9). This is the only way that he can lead his people to wholehearted devotion to Christ, to truth, and to righteousness.

If there is a heart of fire (Jeremiah 20:9) in the pastor, then others will have their hearts set alight with the heat (Luke 24:32) as he follows the Lord’s example and open up the Scriptures for them. He does not need techniques, gimmicks, or modern media to get the truth into their hearts. He does not need to know psychology to assist, comfort, and counsel his people. He does not need the authority of man to preach the word of God and bear fruit. A successful minister is one that is doing exactly and only what the Lord has ordained him to. The pastor’s responsibility is proclaim sound doctrine, refute heresy, and exercise leadership in the local church. If he is a poor preacher then his following could easily be turned aside from the truth unto fables (2 Timothy 4:4). Peter exhorts ministers to “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof” (1 Peter 5:2). It is not Biblically possible to take the oversight if there is no ability to teach as to make others understand what our message is. Through Jeremiah God promises, “I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15).