By Matt Henslee
Years ago, there was an old preacher criticized before he preached his morning sermon. There’d been only one added to their rolls all year.
He knew it, but the reminder hurt.
The pastor preached his message, thinking about resigning after the sermon. After the service, a boy pulled him aside and asked how he could become a preacher.
The response blessed the pastor, but that’s not the best part.
That old preacher was struggling. But amid his faithful plodding, God was working. That old preacher was ready to quit, but God wasn’t.
I love my denominational family and have had or may have opportunities to lead and serve, but my chief desire is to love my family well, faithfully shepherd my church, die, and be forgotten.
Still, God has also burdened me with a desire to encourage pastors who are barely hanging on by a thread.
If that’s you, allow me a word (or a few).
If you’re struggling, press on. You’re called only to be faithful. Your faithfulness may not get noticed in your denomination. You might get passed over on committee appointments or the conference circuit.
What’s more, you may not know your reach in a lifetime. Whether it has been 10 sermons or 1,000, or see a baptistery filled not with water, but with cobwebs: press on.
One day, one glorious day, you’ll know.
On that day, all of the tears, all of the seemingly wasted sermons (there’s no such thing if you’ll preach Christ), and all of the frustrations will pale in comparison to what God accomplished through your two mites of faithful exposition.
Paul charges you in 2 Timothy to “preach the Word.” Notice he didn’t say, “Hit a home run,” or “Wow them with your brilliance.” He said, simply, “Preach the Word.”
Just preach. God will handle the rest.
You’re not called to be Adrian Rogers; you may not have the reach of Billy Graham. You’re called to be “(insert your name here), faithful preacher of the Word.”
Listen, it’s not your job to build your church. It’s Jesus’ job, and there’s no foundation other than Him.
If you’ll put your faithfulness on the altar—along with your desires to grow a platform or build a name for yourself—and follow Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to “preach the Word … with great patience,” Jesus will take care of the rest.
Remember that as you approach the pulpit on Sunday.
Leave a legacy of faithfulness
I shared this story on social media and learned some missionaries our church supports have friends descended from Robert Moffat. Get this: they’re missionaries, too.
In fact, they sold some land to another missionary couple I served alongside years ago. It’s used today to continue to advance the Kingdom.
All because one faithful preacher on the end of his rope continued to stay in the fight, and preached the Word. His influence is incalculable.
Yours will be, too. So, preach the Word and leave the results to God. He’s working, far more than you realize.
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is managing editor of LifeWay Pastors and coauthor of the book Replanting Rural Churches. He is the husband of Rebecca, father of four princesses, and pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico.