Many years ago, I accepted an appointment to a struggling church. The Lord turned things around for that congregation, but I realized early on that many of those folks hadn’t heard preaching like mine prior to my arrival. (I tend to get a tad excited when I orate.) One day, one of our guys approached me and said, “When you preach, you sound desperate.”
That statement caused me to pause a bit, but after thinking about what he said for a few seconds, I replied with a statement of my own. “That’s not desperation, Bill. That’s urgency.”
A Puzzling Thought
I understand that having the call in your life to preach is somewhat foreign to most. There are other vocations that are similar in nature, but being a preacher is a pretty lonely category. It is so because most people haven’t got a clue where you’re coming from. I guess I can understand the fact that they are puzzled by the very thought of it.
Why would someone study all week just to stand before a handful of people and expound upon a few verses of ancient text? Why indeed? It’s certainly not for the money. Most preachers make next to nothing—if anything at all. Some of the high profile folks rake in a few dollars, but with the kind of talent they have, they could be generating a much more sizeable income doing something else. So, even they are enigmas.
Today, fewer and fewer churches are getting turned around like the one I mentioned earlier. As a matter of record, most of them are now hemorrhaging members. For some clergy, it may be desperation that is, indeed, driving their preaching. If the congregation withers up and dies, so does the opportunity to preach on a regular basis. But our calling is not based upon dollars. It’s not even based upon the number of people with whom we share the Gospel. It’s based upon the urgency in our lives to do the will of the One who called us.
An Urgency to Share
Brother Bill thought I was preaching out of desperation. What he didn’t realize was that my desperation died the day I met Christ. On that day, my desperation began to turn to assurance. That assurance led me to the urgency to share the Good News.
Frankly, we live in a world that begs for urgency. People wander around in such spiritual darkness that they are often blind to their own needs. I’m not their judge, but I would guess that some of them never discover their need for the Savior. As Christians, we are given the responsibility and privilege of passing along the Good News of a Savior who loves us and came to make a way for us to be lifted out of our darkness.
I once read a bumper sticker that said something like, “Live your life such a way that the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.” If we all did that, it would certainly ease any desperation.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]