Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Privilege to Preach

When I was a seminary student, my favorite classes were those with J. Scott Horrell and John Hannah. Dr. Horrell taught systematic theology and became a dear friend and mentor to me. He took Karen and me on our first missions trip (to Mozambique!), hosted us in his home, hired me as his grader, and generally loved me like Jesus. Of such men, the world is in woefully short supply. Dr. Hannah taught us all about ministry under the guise of teaching Church history. He and I were not friends, though I loved to listen to him and respected him deeply (and still do). There is so much that you are shoveling into your brain in those years, that it actually takes a few afterward to sort through it all. But one of the things that stands out in my memory is Dr. Hannah's comment: "Gentlemen, remember that preaching the Gospel is not just your responsibility. It is also your privilege."

I've turned that over and over in my mind in the years since, trying always to bear in mind that what I get to do as a pastor is a rare gift to be treasured, not a job, not a burden, nor something I do for which others should feel pity. I was reminded once again of the privilege this past weekend as I shared the Gospel at a Wild Game Feast in Buckeye, Arizona and then returned on a late night flight to preach 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 at home. What right do I have to stand before God's people and have them listen to me? None. What standing do I have that they should listen? None. And yet... And yet... God has called, I have obeyed, and He has blessed me with opportunities I could not imagine.

Here therefore is my prayer: "Lord, help me to remember the privilege, even on days when I am tired or frustrated, or depressed or even just bored. Help me remember that this is something I not only have to do, but something I get to do as well. Amen."

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