When asked what is the most important quality a preacher must have in order to be successful in leading people to Christ, my answer is that it is zeal.
And if they ask me about this again and again, I will not change my answer, because on the basis of my personal observations I came to the conclusion that, as a rule, real success is proportional to the zeal of the preacher. Both smart and narrow-minded people succeed in this only if they are devoted to God with all their hearts.
We know famous people who have won a huge reputation and attract a large number of listeners, who are deeply revered, but nevertheless turn out to be very weak “soul fishers”, because no matter how hard they try, they remain only teachers or political speakers.
We also know brothers with very limited abilities who are simply a heavy burden to the Church and are as useless in their field as the blind in the observatory; and at the same time, we well know people as limited as they are, who with their holy energy have saved many people and brought them to God. I really like Cheyne’s remark, who said, “God blesses not so much the great talents of people as true following of Christ.” In many cases, the success of a preacher in almost everything is associated with ardent zeal, passionate love for people, zealous zeal in the work of God, and we think that in each case, under equal conditions, people succeed in the field of the Lord in proportion to the power of holy love burning in their hearts.
Brethren, you and I, as preachers, should always be zealous in our preaching. Here we must strive in such a way as to attain the highest degree of perfection. I often tell my brothers that the pulpit is the thermoelement of Christianity: there the victory of our struggle will be won or lost.
Our main concern as preachers is to maintain our zeal; when we preach from the pulpit, we must take possession of this spiritual watchtower with all our heart and mind, while remaining vigilant and energetic.
We will not be good shepherds if we are not zealous preachers. We will be forgiven many sins in matters of pastoral work if we give people spiritual food on Sundays, and they must receive it, for nothing else can replace it. The shortcomings of most pastors are related to their inability to preach.
The main task of the captain is to know how to control his ship: and nothing in this will compensate for his ignorance. So our main task is to preach, otherwise we will not achieve anything. Dogs often fight for lack of bone, just as our parishioners often fight over lack of spiritual food that makes them happy and calm. There may be other reasons for dissatisfaction, but nine out of ten cases, lack of spiritual food is the cause of turmoil in our churches. Like other animals, humans know when to feed themselves, and they usually feel good after eating. And therefore, when our listeners come to the house of God and receive “their daily bread,” they forget their sorrows, and their hearts are filled with joy; but if we send them home hungry, then they get angry like a bear from which they took his cubs.
So, to be successful with our listeners, we must be especially zealous when we preach. Cecil said correctly that the spirit and manner of a preacher has a greater effect than what he says.
Someone rises to the pulpit in deep indifference and leans on it, as if, at last, he has found a place to rest – I think this is unacceptable. To stand in front of people and say banal things that do not matter at all, as if everything is suitable for preaching – this not only diminishes the dignity of our ministry, but is also blasphemous.
We must be zealous in the pulpit for our benefit, because if we are indifferent, we will not be able to maintain our position as leaders in the church of God. Moreover, for the benefit of our church members and all believers, we must be energetic, because if we are not zealous, then they will not be either. It is unnatural for rivers to flow uphill, it is not often that zeal comes from below, from the audience, to the pulpit, to the preacher. But it is natural that it should go from us to our listeners: our sermon must blaze with fire if we want their hearts to kindle and burn. Those who come to our congregations work hard for the whole week. Many of them are burdened with family concerns, their personal hardships and come to the congregation tired and indifferent: their thoughts are scattered.
And our concern is to collect these thoughts and throw them into the furnace of our own zeal, melt them with the fire of divine contemplation and zeal, and pour them into the form of truth.
A blacksmith will do nothing if his fire does not burn, and in this respect he can be compared to a preacher.
If all the lamps in the outside world have gone out, then the lamp that burns in the sanctuary should not be extinguished, because for to fire the evening bell should never sound.
We must view people as wood and an altar, saturated many times with the cares of the week, to which, like the prophet, we must ask God to send fire from heaven. If the preacher is indifferent then hearers will be also indifferent. Ministers and church members cannot be expected to travel by train if their chosen shepherd is still riding in an old cart.
We should all be like that reformer, about whom someone said that “everything in him burned with life, his face shone with life, his eyes and hands were full of life.”
To give drink to another soul
Your soul should overflow,
And for the mouth to speak
The heart must be overflowing.
If we are not zealous, the world will suffer as much as the church. We cannot hope that the gospel, indifferently preached, can have a strong impact on the unbelievers around us. One of the excuses for the dormant conscience of the godless generation is the preacher’s indifference.
If a sinner sees that the preacher is dozing, when he talks about the impending judgment, then he thinks that this judgment is only a dream of the preacher, and considers it just a fantasy.
The whole sinful world is in danger because of the indifferent preacher, because he comes to the same conclusion as the individual sinner: he himself remains indifferent, increases his attachment to temporary things and believes that he is doing it right. How could it be otherwise? If the prophet does not give his heart when he declares that he speaks on behalf of God, what else can he expect, then the atheists will consider his prophecy an empty word, and his mission just a farce.
Hear Whitefield preach, and never let yourself be cold-blooded when you preach. Winter says that “sometimes he cried so bitterly and often suffered so much that for a few seconds you were afraid that he would never recover: when he regained consciousness, it took a while until he calmed down. I don’t remember a sermon whee he did not cry.
His voice was often interrupted by sobs, and I heard him, standing on the pulpit, saying: “You reproach me for crying, but how can I not cry when you yourself do not cry for yourselves, although your immortal souls stand on the brink of destruction, and, as far as I know, this is your last sermon that you listen to, and maybe you will never again hear Christ’s call to God? “
Your zeal when preaching should be natural. It shouldn’t be fake, because every person, with even a drop of common sense, will immediately see if it is fake.
Stomping your feet, knocking on the table, sweating, shouting, yelling, quoting pathetic passages from the sermons of other preachers or shedding crocodile tears does not mean expressing true suffering of the soul and sensitive spirit.
The best work of art is only art: it can be liked only by those who pay attention to the appearance, but for those who love the truth, it is disgusting.
What arrogance, what cynicism – through the skillful manipulation of the voice to imitate the passion that is the fruit of the true work of the Holy Spirit. Let such actors beware, because with their theatrical performances they sin against the Holy Spirit. We must be zealous when we preach, because we are zealous always and everywhere: we must burn with a bright flame when we preach, because we are always on fire. Zeal, which is reserved only for special occasions, is a gas that will at some point destroy its owner.
Nothing but truth should exist in the house of God: all artificial affectation is the fire of lies, and it arouses the wrath of the God of Truth. Be jealous and you will appear jealous. A heart burning with a flame will immediately find a fiery tongue for its expression.
Faking zealousness is one of the most disgusting tricks to gaining popularity — let’s not even think about it. Go and stay cool in the pulpit if your heart is cold. Speak slowly, in a low tone and in a monotonous voice, if that way you can better express your soul: even that will be infinitely better than making a masquerade out of worship, and out of yourself as an actor.
But our zeal in preaching should always be directed towards the end result; otherwise, our sincerity is called into question. God does not send crops to those who do not protect and water the fields where he sowed. After the end of the sermon, we only need to throw the net, which we will then with prayer and caution pull ashore.
I think Watts said it best of all: ” Most of all tace care about your zeal in the pulpit. Water the seeds you have sown not only with common but also secret prayer. Continuously ask God so that your labors will not be wasted. Do not be like a stupid ostrich that leaves its eggs on the ground and does not care about them anymore, not thinking if its cubs will hatch or not (Job 39: 24-17). God did not give it a common sense, but you do not dare to do this: work, try, pray that your sermons and the fruits of your knowledge become words of Divine life for people.
“According to the pious Baxter (which I read in one of his works), he had never heard that the brightest and most wonderful minds, or the most excellent or even truly inspired preachers, achieved great success if they did not care about the success of their preaching work. Never forget about the souls who are saved by our preaching or who remain under destruction and are condemned to eternal torment because of our negligence. We are set as guards for the house of Israel, such as Ezekiel was: and if we do not warn against the impending danger, many souls will perish because of our negligence: and their blood will be demanded from our hands (Ezekiel 3:17 ff.) ”.
Therefore, we must always be on guard and be zealous at all times. The pillar of light and fire should be the emblem of the preacher. Our ministry must be convincing, otherwise it will never enlighten this thoughtless time: and therefore our hearts and our whole nature must burn with an all-consuming fire of passion for the glory of God and for the good of people.
But, my brothers, to our great regret, we must admit that the holy zeal that has been kindled in us can easily be extinguished, and more often this happens in the loneliness of the village parish than in the company of kind-hearted Christian brothers.
Adam, the author of “personal thoughts”, once remarked: “The poor village shepherd, fighting the devil in his parish, had more noble ideas than Alexander the Great.” And I will add that it took him more zeal than Alexander the Great to always win in his struggle. We cannot stand in the Sleepy Emptiness and the Dormant Land if we do not constantly pray for daily awakening.
However, city life is fraught with danger, and zeal can be dulled by numerous worries, like fire that dissipates everywhere, instead of being concentrated in one place. These constant knocking on the door, the endless visits of the idlers, like tubs of cold water falling on a hot head, dull our zeal. We must somehow protect ourselves from these intrusions into our ongoing life with God, otherwise we will lose our strength. And a large city in this sense is a particularly difficult place.
Zeal also diminishes faster after years of service in the same place. Wesley wrote: “I know that if I had been preaching in one place for a whole year, I would have put myself and most of my parishioners to sleep with my sermons.”
This is what it means to stay in the same pulpit for many years! Our God is the same everywhere, His longsuffering is infinite, and He alone can give us the strength to endure everything to the end. Who, after twenty years of his ministry among people, remains even more alive than before, owes everything to the regenerating Holy Spirit.
Zeal can, and this is very often the case, weakened by neglect of knowledge. If you yourself have not deeply studied the Word of God, then you will not preach with the zeal and compassion of a man fed on the truth that he preaches, and therefore strong and passionate.
As the authorities say, an Englishman’s zeal in battle depends on his good nutrition: if he is hungry, he will not rush into battle. Likewise, if we are not fed healthy gospel food, we will not be energetic and zealous.
Selden says that one old commander, before the battle of Cadiz, addressed his soldiers with the following speech: “What a shame it would be if you Englishmen who eat good meat and drink beer will be smashed by these Spanish crooks who eat only oranges and lemons. “
I understand his philosophy perfectly: he expects courage and zeal from those who are well fed. Brothers, never neglect spiritual food, otherwise you will not have enough strength and fortitude. Live the great doctrines of grace, and you will live and work better than those who are addicted to the rantings of a “modern thought.”
But knowledge, on the other hand, can also dampen zeal when the brain gets its nourishment from the heart, and many who are fond of literature limit themselves to writing articles instead of preaching.
One such preacher used to say that Christ was crucified right in front of the Hellenes, Romans and Jews. This should not be the case, but often seminarians collect firewood, but lose the fire that should ignite them. Shame on us forever if we put out the fire, instead of supporting it. If we turn into bookworms, it will be for the joy of the old serpent and will become our misfortune.
True zeal can be dulled by frivolous conversation, especially with our colleagues, in their company we allow ourselves more liberties than in the company of other Christians. It’s great to feel free with your brothers, but if this freedom goes beyond the boundaries, then we soon see that empty talk only brings harm. Gaiety is one thing, frivolity is another. With serious conversation, an intelligent man will navigate his ship between the dark rocks of gloom and the quicksand of frivolity.
The comments from colleagues after your sermon are simply overwhelming. You think that the most stone hearts have sunk, but it turns out that these people have remained indifferent.
You were on fire, and they remained cold as ice; you tried your best, and they counted how many seconds you spent preaching, and they were unhappy if you spoke for five minutes longer than you should have, showing them zeal and fighting to save lost souls.
And if cold people turn out to be the heads of the church, from whom we naturally expect the warmest relationship to ourselves, then this leads you to extreme despondency, especially if you are still young and inexperienced. It’s like pinching an angel with ice.
“Do not plow the donkey and the ox together,” says prudence, but when a preacher who works diligently like an ox finds himself in the same harness with a teacher who is not at all an ox, it becomes very difficult to plow.
Such grumpy professors bear a great responsibility for this. Not long ago, one of them approached a zealous young preacher who was trying his best and said, “Young man, is that what you call a sermon?” He considered himself a true believer, but he was cruel and rude, and although this pious young man suffered this blow, it was nevertheless cruel. Such attacks on the little children of the Lord, I hope, are very rare, but they are very painful and can alienate our budding youth.
Often the listeners themselves can cool your zeal. By their very appearance and behavior, you can see that they do not appreciate your good efforts at all, and this makes you discouraged.
These empty pews are also a great challenge, and if your meetinghouse is large and your parishioners are few, then it is depressing. Not everyone can stand to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
Confusion in the congregation is also depressing for sensitive preachers. The clatter of women’s shoes with wooden soles, the creak of new shoes, the frequent falling of umbrellas or sticks, the cry of small children and especially the constant delay of half of the parishioners – all this irritates the preacher, distracts his thoughts from the topic of his sermon and weakens his zeal.
We are not very fond of admitting that such trifles so easily throw us off balance, but this is so, and we should not be surprised at this. Just as a precious ointment in a jar is more likely to deteriorate due to a small fly, so insignificant things more often dull our zeal than the most serious troubles. In great despondency, a person rushes to God for help and receives divine power; however, small trifles constantly annoy and sharpen him, in one way or another he worries and becomes discouraged again, until this leads to serious consequences.
Forgive me if I tell you that your general condition is very dependent on food, because eating abundant food disturbs your digestion and weakens your spirit when it should burn.
I will give you one case from the memoirs of Duncan Matheson, which will be very pertinent here.
“At one place where prayer meetings were to take place, lay preachers, among whom was Matheson, were invited to a lavish dinner at the home of a wealthy Christian. After dinner they went to the meeting. As they talked, they disagreed on how is the best way to hold the evening.
“The Spirit is crushed: I feel that He is not here,” said one of the young preachers in a low voice that did not match his mood at all during the sumptuous dinner.
“Nonsense,” objected Matheson, who did not tolerate any complaints and melancholy. “Nothing like that. You just ate a lot at dinner and now you’re in a bad mood.”
Duncan Matheson was quite right, his common sense would help those who consider themselves super-religious and attribute all their moods to some supernatural cause, when the real reason lies much closer. Doesn’t it happen that indigestion is mistaken for a vice, and poor digestion for hard-heartedness? I will not say anything else, the clever will understand from one word.
Many physical and mental reasons can dull our jealousy. For some of us, a sleepless night, a change in the weather, or a rude remark can be detrimental. But who complains about the lack of zeal?
Often the recognition of the absence of life in itself speaks of its existence and is often quite energetic. Do not be too demanding of yourself, be pleased with yourself, but, on the other hand, do not slander yourself and do not lose heart. Your own opinion about your condition is not worth much: ask the Lord about it and He will tell you.
Long, incessant work without visible success also often chills zeal, although, on the contrary, it should strengthen it sevenfold.
So, Thomas Fuller, for example, says: “In this God humbled many zealous shepherds, making them rain clouds not over happy Arabia, but over desert and stony Arabia.” If failure humbles us, that is very good, but if it discourages us, and especially if it makes us jealous of more fortunate brothers, then we should think carefully.
It happens that we were diligent and did the right thing, we are in our place, and yet we did not succeed. Maybe we will be very upset and no longer have the strength to continue our work, but if we muster up the courage and increase our zeal, we will someday reap a rich harvest that will exceed all our expectations.
“The farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,” and with holy, zealous patience, we must wait and never doubt that the time will come when we will be of use to Zion.
And also we must not forget that the flesh is weak and, naturally, prone to sleep. We need a constant renewal of the divine impulse that once moved us on the path of service. We are not arrows reaching the goal only by the force that launched them from the bow, not birds, which themselves have their own motive power – we must move forward like a ship, impelled by the constant force of the heavenly wind, otherwise we will stop.
The preachers sent by God are not music boxes that, once set up, will play the same melodies, but we are trumpets that are silent until a living breath makes them utter a certain sound. We know about mute dogs, and we can all become so if the grace of God does not prevent it. We must be vigilant lest frivolity and indifference take possession of us, otherwise we will become as soulless as Laodicea herself.
Remember, dear brothers, that we must be zealous, that jealousy cannot be faked or replaced by something, that it is very easy to lose it, and therefore let’s talk a little about how to keep all our zeal and increase it even more.
In order for it never to cool down, our zeal must be kindled from an immortal fire, and I know only one like this: this is the flame of Christ’s love, which no water can extinguish.
The spark from this heavenly sun will not go out, just as the source from which it originated does not go out. If we can receive this spark, even if we already have it, we will always be full of zeal, no matter how long we live, no matter what trials we have, and no matter what causes us to lose heart.
To have constant zeal for life, we must first of all have zeal in our concern for heavenly life. Do we have this fire? Truth must burn in our hearts, otherwise it will not burn on our lips. Do we understand this? Great gospel truths should be an integral part of our being, they are intertwined with the basis of the fabric of our being, and this can only be done by the hand that originally woven this fabric.
We will never lose our love for Christ and our love for people if the Lord gave it to us. The Holy Spirit makes zeal for God a permanent principle of life, not passion.
Doesn’t He trust in us, and is this zeal of ours just a human miracle? We must understand our heart well.
Is a holy fire burning within us that has been kindled from a true calling to our ministry? If not, why are we here? If a person can live without preaching, let him live without it. If he doesn’t care whether or not to be a fisher of souls, I almost said, let him not even try to be one, but I’d rather say: let him try to remove the stone of this indifference from his heart so that it could feel compassion for perishing souls. Until then, as a preacher, he will only do great harm, and will fail in taking the place of someone who can succeed in this blessed work.
The flame of our zeal should burn on the altar of faith and truth that we preach, and faith in the power to bless people when the Holy Spirit instills this faith in the niches of the heart.
Anyone who believes that the doctrine he serves is not true will never be a good preacher. How can he be zealous in what he himself is not sure of? If he himself does not feel the spiritual power of truth with all his heart, if he has not felt and experienced the power of the word of truth, how can he show zeal in his work?
But if the Holy Spirit has taught us and initiated us into the mystery of the truth that we must proclaim, then we will always proclaim it with the tongue of fire.
Brothers, don’t start teaching until the Lord teaches you. How boring is it to repeat dogmas that do not touch your heart and are not convincing to you! I would rather pinch the tow or twist the crank to get breakfast, as the poor in the flophouse do, than be a slave to the parishioners and bring them spiritual food that I have not tried myself. And what a terrible end to such a job! What a terrible end is waiting for the one who publicly teaches what he himself does not fully believe with all his heart and is so shamelessly hypocritical in the name of God!
Brothers, if fire is transferred from a true place to a true place, then this is a good beginning and the main element of a glorious end. Kindled with living fire, brought by the seraphim to our lips from the altar, this fire began to nourish our innermost spirit, and there it will burn, no matter how hard satan tries to extinguish it.
But even the most powerful flame in the Word needs renewal. I do not know if immortal spirits drink, like angels, and if they eat manna prepared for them in heaven, but, in all likelihood, no living creature, although immortal, needs to receive food from outside. to maintain your strength.
Of course, the flame of zeal in a renewed heart, no matter how righteous it may be, must always be sustained by new fuel. Even the fire of the lamp in the sanctuary is supported by oil.
Support it, brothers, feed it more often: feed it with thought and reflection, especially about your work, about the motives that prompted you to do it, about its goal, about the help that awaits you, about its great results, if the Lord is with you.
Think a lot about the love of God for sinners and about the death of Christ for their sake, and about the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people.
Think about what needs to happen in the hearts of people so that they can be saved. Remember, you are sent not to whitewash the graves, but to open them, and no man can do this work if, like the Lord at the tomb of Lazarus, he does not grieve in spirit and even then he will be powerless if the Holy Spirit does not help him.
Think about the fate of lost sinners, and when, like Abraham, you get up early in the morning and go to the place where you will stand before the Lord, look at Sodom and you will see smoke rising from the ground like smoke from a furnace.
Beware of opinions that the future punishment is not so terrible, and do everything to save immortal souls from the unquenchable fire.
If people really are only a noble kind of monkeys and they die like animals, then let them die without any regret. But if their creation in the image of God presupposes immortality and there is a danger that by their unbelief they bring eternal damnation upon themselves, then make every effort to save them, and be ashamed even to think that this does not concern you!
Think also of the blessedness of saved sinners and, like the godly Baxter, base your zeal on the “eternal rest of the saints.” Go to the heavenly mountains and gather fuel for the fire there: collect the glorious logs of the Lebanese forest, and the fire will burn, emitting a fragrance from every piece of cedar that burns in this flame. And if you constantly feel the eternal realities, you will not have to fear that you will become indifferent.
But above all, feed the flame of your zeal by close fellowship with Christ. No one will be indifferent who lives with Jesus, as John and Mary lived with him in ancient times, because He kindles the hearts of people.
I have never met an indifferent preacher who often communicated with our Lord Jesus Christ. Jealousy for the house of God has burned our Lord, and when we communicate with Him, it begins to burn us, and we feel that we cannot talk about anything else but the things that we saw and heard when we were with Him. We cannot but talk about them with the fervor that comes from them.
Those of us who have been preaching for twenty-five years know that the same pulpit, the same topic, the same people, all together create a sense of monotony, and monotony can soon lead to a loss of interest.
But then we will remember another kind of monotony that becomes our salvation: this is the same Savior, and we can go to Him as we came the first time, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
In His presence we enjoy new wine and become young again. He is a source that always pours out the cool, refreshing water of life, and from communion with Him our souls are filled with inextinguishable energy.
Sanctified by the light of His smile, our usual work is always beautiful, and renewed by this light, it becomes even more attractive. Every morning we collect new manna for our parishioners, and when we go to distribute it, we feel how fresh oil sanctifies us.
“Those who hope in the Lord will be renewed in strength: they will lift up their wings like eagles and will not get tired; they will walk and not be weary.”
Renewed by the presence of the One who walks among the golden lamps, we are ready to write and speak to people in the power that only He alone can give. Soldiers of Christ, you can be worthy of your Leader only by being in fellowship with Him and listening to Him, as Joshua did when he stood at the Jordan and asked: “What will my Lord say to his servant?”
Not only nourish, but also renew the flame of your soul’s jealousy. Renew it constantly with prayers. Our brothers and we absolutely need prayer.
Necessity (!) – no, I do not want to talk about it, but about the delightful feeling that prayer gives – amazing sweetness and bliss, is embraced by a soul that lives in an atmosphere of prayer.
Fox said: “The time we spend alone with God is the best and most wonderful time. Therefore, if you love your life, love prayer.”
Godly Harvey, being seriously ill, said: “If God will keep me alive, then I will read less and pray more. ” John Cook wrote: “Prayer itself, pleasure, purification and benefit from it give me more strength every day.” As he died, he exclaimed, “I wish I could pray more.” Many of us would also like this.
There is a special time for prayer, and it is good to never miss it: but the spirit of prayer is even better than the habit of prayer: it is better to pray constantly than to pray intermittently.
What a happiness it would be if we could often kneel in prayer with our brothers, and I think this should be the rule for us preachers to never leave without a word of prayer. More of our prayers will be heard if this becomes the rule, especially for us colleagues.
If possible, let prayer and praise of the Lord sanctify every meeting of friends. What strength does a few minutes of prayer with two or three kind-hearted deacons or other brothers give before the sermon? It always gives me the strength to fight.
But for all that, in order to renew the flame of your soul’s zeal, you must always and everywhere abide in the spirit of constant prayer in order to pray in the Holy Spirit: in your office, before preaching, and in the pulpit.
It is good to always be in prayer when you sit in the pulpit, when you get up to sing a hymn, when you read a chapter from the Bible, when you preach a sermon – raising one hand to God to receive what the Lord gives you, and the other to pass it on to people …
During the sermon, you must be the connecting principle between the eternal and inexhaustible heavenly food and the unlimited needs of people, and for this you must reach heaven and constantly keep in touch with them. Pray for people when you preach to them, speak to God on their behalf, when you speak to them on behalf of God. Only in this way can we hope to be always zealous.
A person rarely rises from his knees being indifferent; if this happens, then it is better for him to return to prayer until the sacred flame touches his soul. Adam Clarke once said: “Work to death and then pray to be reborn.” This is a very wise remark. Never do the first without the second, and do not dream that the second can happen without the first. Work and pray, wait and pray, but always pray.
Also fan the flame of jealousy of your soul by frequent attempts to refresh your ministry: break free from routine, leaving the development of the field of service, and cultivate virgin lands. To keep the fire of your jealousy alive, I advise you, as a secondary but very useful tool, to refresh your daily work with additional new activities.
I would recommend that the brothers who will soon leave our seminary settle in areas where they will be able to communicate with at least a few high-spirit people and, perhaps, will not be completely alone on the higher paths of spirituality, beware of becoming lethargic, monotonous and useless and stay always zealous, constantly contributing something new.
You will have to work hard, and few people will help you in this, and your years of work can become a heavy burden for you: – beware of this and use all possible means to avoid becoming boring and indifferent, and among them, use those clues that my own experience allows me to recommend you. And that is always doing something new. The old and familiar methods must be preserved, but something new must be added to them.
We must act like the settlers whose land is illegally occupied, we must move the fence of the garden two or three feet forward, and conquer a little more land each year.
Never say “enough already,” and don’t take the position of “rest and be grateful.” Do whatever you can and then work. I do not know how a personwho declares that he can make people of small stature taller achieves results, but I think that if you could become half a meter taller, then for this you need to stand on tiptoes every morning and reach up as high as possible, and then do the same thing daily. This, of course, presupposes moral and spiritual growth – “to reach for what lies ahead.”
If the old method stops giving the previous results, supplement it with something new, and then it will again bear good results. Try to do this, and you will soon see the benefits of plowing up new lands, capturing new enemy lands and climbing new heights in order to plant the banner of the Lord there. This is, of course, an additional tool to the ones we have already talked about, but it is still very useful and can help you.
In a rural town with, say, two thousand inhabitants, after a while you will say: “Here I did everything I could.” What then? There is a small village four miles away: start working in it. If others are already working in one village, look for the next one, explore it and make it your goal to give her spiritual food. When you’ve fed one, think about the other. This is your responsibility and a guarantee for the future. Everyone knows how interesting it is to do a new job.
The gardener will get tired of his work, if he does not plant new flowers in his greenhouse or create a flower bed with a new shape: any monotonous work is unnatural and tiring, so add variety to your work.
It is especially important to be in close fellowship with God and with those whom you want to convert to God. Live in the shadow of the Almighty, where Jesus reveals Himself, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your very life is in this. Whitefield tells of a young man who was so keenly aware of the Lord’s presence that he always walked with his head covered. I would like us to be constantly in this state. Then it would not be so difficult to always be joyful.
And also be in the closest relationship with those whose souls you must take care for. Stand in the river and fish. Many preachers are completely unaware of how most people live: they feel at home and, like in the forest, among people.
What will you think of a botanist who rarely saw fresh flowers, or an astronomer who never spent a night with the stars? Are they worthy of being called disciples?
Likewise, a preacher of the Gospel will only be an empiricist if he does not move among people and only cares about his reputation.
“Learn from life,” gentlemen, we must learn a lot from it if we want to talk about life in our sermons. Read people as you read books, and love people, not opinions, otherwise you will be lifeless preachers.
Be especially attentive to those in need. Get to know their hardships, their suffering and remorse. It will help you to be zealous when you see their yearning for peace.
On the other hand, when you see how indifferent most people remain, it will help you be more zealous so that you can awaken their zeal for God.
Rejoice with those who find a Savior: this is a powerful tool for reviving your own soul. When you succeed in bringing the sufferer to Jesus, you feel young again. It will be like a balm to your heart when you hear the crying repentant cry: “I understand everything now! I believe, and all my pain is gone: I am saved. “
Sometimes the repentance of converted souls will give you apostolic strength. Who can not preach after seeing souls turn to the Lord?
Be mindful when grace finally brings back the lost sheep so that by participating in the joys of the Great Shepherd you can become young again. Die with sinners, and you will be rewarded for the exhausting pursuit of those whom you have been chasing for months and years. Grab them in a strong embrace of love and say: “Yes, thank God, I really caught these souls,” and the flame of your soul’s jealousy will kindle even more.
If you have to work in a big city, I advise you, wherever your meetinghouse is located, to see with your own eyes the poverty, ignorance and sinisterness of this city.
Go, if possible, with a city missionary, to the poorest neighborhoods, and you will be amazed at everything you see there, and the sight of this terrible ailment will make you zealously seek a remedy for it.
There are enough prophets to be seen even in the best neighborhoods of our big cities, but the conditions in which people live in the slums will cause incomparable horror to you.
As a doctor visits a hospital, so you must go into every alley and yard to see the misfortune that sin brings. One view to the grief that sin has brought to earth makes you cry tears of blood.
One day with a true missionary will make you a good preacher after the seminary and truly prepare you for your own work. Look at how most people, stricken by their sins, live: they drink without waking, skip Sunday services, commit iniquity and blaspheme: and watch how they die devastated and bitter, or thrown into fear and despair.
And nothing like this will ignite the flame of your zeal again if it begins to fade.
The world is full of exhausting poverty and deadly sorrow: shame and death have killed thousands of people, and only the great gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can save them. This is true, if in doubt, go and see for yourself. In this way you will learn to preach great salvation and praise the great Savior, and not only with your mouth, but also with your heart: and then nothing will force you to leave your blessed work.
Dying people are a great school for us. They make us even more zealous about our work. I left the dying man’s ward depressed and thought that everyone had gone mad, and more than anyone else I myself.
I envied the zeal with which these people treated earthly things, and said to myself: “Why did that man drive so recklessly in his car, why did that woman dress so sluxuriously?” And since they were already on the verge of death, I thought that they no longer needed anything but to prepare for a meeting with their God.
Visiting dying people will help us teach them how to live and die. McChine often visited his sick and dying parishioners on Saturdays because, as James Hamilton said, “He wanted to feel like a mere mortal before the sermon.”
Also, I ask you to evaluate your work in the light of God.
Are you God’s servants or not? If so, how can your heart be cold?
Are you not sent by the dying Savior to proclaim His love and receive redemption from His woundst? If so, how can you lose heart?
Doesn’t the Spirit of God rest on you?
Hasn’t the Lord blessed you to preach blessings to the poor? If not, then don’t pretend to be. If so, then let the might of your strength be in this and the Lord will be your strength.
Make your work not a craft, but a profession. Of course, if you measure it with the yardstick of an artisan, it will be the lowest on earth. Consider her your profession: who doesn’t prefer any other when it comes to great benefits and earthly honors?
But if this will be your calling from above, and you will be a miracle worker, staying in the divine world and working not in the name of the temporary, but the eternal, then you will belong to a noble guild and a higher brotherhood than any others that arise on earth and work. in time.
Look at it in its true light, and then you will recognize that it is great happiness to be as poor as your Lord, if, like Him, you shall make many rich: you will feel how wonderful it is to be unknown and despised, as were the first followers of your Gentlemen, because you make famous the One who as you know is eternal life. You will be content to be somebody or to be nobody, and the thought of yourself will never occur to you or will only flicker in order to be immediately rejected as unworthy to be a sanctified person.
This is the main thing. Measure your work with the yardstick it deserves, and then I’m not afraid that your jealousy will weaken.
Look at her in the light of Doomsday and in terms of the eternal rewards of loyalty. Oh, brothers, the joy of saving one soul by you is an all-consuming delight: you felt it, I believe, I know it now. The salvation of the soul from destruction brings heaven closer to us but what a joy it will be to meet souls redeemed by Christ, who have learned the gospel of their salvation from your lips, on the day of the last judgment!
We look forward to the bliss of the Kingdom of Heaven in union with our Teacher, but we also know the joy of meeting with our beloved, whom by our ministry we brought to Jesus.
Let us carry our cross and let us overcome all shame in the name of the joy that Jesus gives us from bringing people to Him.
One more thing can help our zeal. Consider what will happen to us and our listeners if we neglect our work.
“He will die for his sins” – aren’t these terrible words? They are as terrible for me as the following: “but his blood I will demand from the hand of the guard.”
How to describe the fate of an unfaithful preacher? And every indifferent preacher is unfaithful. I would rather find myself in Tophet as a killer of human bodies than as a destroyer of their souls: I also do not know of a more terrible state in which a person can perish so horribly, so irrevocably, as one who preaches the Gospel, which he does not believe, and holds the post of shepherd of people, the good of which he passionately does not want.
Let us pray to be always and forever faithful to us.
May the Lord and the Holy Spirit help us, who can make and keep us faithful.