To Love Those To Whom We Preach
I am absolutely loving the 40th Anniversary edition of Preaching and Preachers, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. His writing is passionate, clear, and helpful for anyone considering or engaged in the task of preaching. That’s not to say I wouldn’t quibble here and there – his comments on lay preaching (pp.113ff), for example – but overall, I’ve definitely benefited from considering the task of preaching and pastoring through this shepherd’s eyes.
As he begins to deal with the act of preaching, and what sort of character and attitudes should go into it, I was particularly struck by “urgency”. This is an area where I can certainly grow, allowing the message to both work on me as I prepare, and then work in the delivery so that the body recognizes deep down that this is not just more information, but necessary for their spiritual health and walk together as a body.
But for all that, the following caught my eye, as Lloyd-Jones deals with “pathos and power”:
Richard Cecil, an Anglican preacher in London towards the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth said something which should make us all think. ‘To love to preach is one thing, to love those to whom we preach quite another.’ The trouble with some of us is that we love preaching, but we are not always careful to make sure that we love the people to whom we are actually preaching. If you lack this element of compassion for the people you will also lack the pathos which is a very vital element in all true preaching. Our Lord looked out upon the multitude and ‘saw them as sheep without a shepherd’, and was ‘filled with compassion’. And if you know nothing of this you should not be in a pulpit, for this is certain to come out in your preaching. We must not be purely intellectual or argumentative, this other element must be there. Not only will your love for the people produce this pathos, the matter itself is bound to do this in and of itself. What can possibly be more moving than a realization of what God in Christ has done for us? Any attempt therefore to consider and to understand it should move us profoundly.Preaching and Preachers, pp. 105-106
As we inch closer to Easter, its a good reminder that those who are elders and pastors are under-shepherds. We must be diligent to emulate the Great Shepherd, to learn true compassion from its source. We must not forget to love as we strive to persuade. And as we grow in skill and confidence, we must not founder in care. For certainly, the sheep will smell out the fake.