How Does A Congregation Pick Its Preacher?
Calvin Miller’s book, “The Empowered Leader” addresses ten keys to what he calls “servant leadership.” In chapter one (pp. 11-12), he addresses our general propensity to select men (i.e., preachers) based upon faulty, yes – even worldly, structures.
I’ve taken the liberty of amending a few paragraphs in his book to help us see how many times congregations in the Lord’s church tend to pick their preacher(s) by superficial first impressions and appearances.
You might not agree with everything he says, but there are a few helpful mustard seeds to be gleaned here. Give Miller’s work a few minutes of your prayerful thought and consideration:
“WE OFTEN ARRIVE at preacher selection by imitating the actions of the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 16).
Samuel went to Bethlehem to look for an evangelist. Jesse of Bethlehem presented Samuel an all-star line up of preacher candidates. His applicants appeared to be rugged, minister types.
But in the process of sorting though their appearances, Samuel saw a need to read their resumes more closely.
How unlike Samuel we are when we choose. All too often we “line up” our potential perspective preachers, eyeball their credentials, and vote them in or out on their appearance after a Bible class and a couple of sermons.
The mistake of Jesse is a universal fault. He called Samuel in to begin his search with Abinadab. Jesse’s most impressive preacher candidate seemed the place to begin.
But the Bible holds a vital lesson on preacher selection.
Each time a congregation plays this image roulette, they opt for leadership by relativism. Relativism is the way a congregation and eldership compares resumes to arrive at the most ideal.
Every congregation has its pecking order. But selecting a preacher of God’s Word is not simply a matter of comparing the best virtues of all the assembled contenders.
The old prophet discovered a faulty system. The right candidate was not even present – the contest was not inclusive enough.
God’s chosen man is sometimes not even in the line-up. In this case, David was out tending sheep and serving in another capacity in another location.
It’s often that way.
We’re not altogether sure when leadership is present, but we are always sure when it is absent.
When England needed a king, there was a sword in a stone. Excalibur was the magic sword that belonged to the leader in that day.
We often ballot our choices for preachers, picking and choosing in our relativistic way. But history repeatedly teaches us that running through stack of resumes is often a faulty way to look for a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Only the real king can wrest the sword from the stone.
The holder of the title preacher sometimes comes from the shadows of obscurity.
On such unsuspected persons the mantle falls.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).