I am going to do something here that I don’t really intend to do again. I am going to respond to comments that were posted anonymously. When I first read these comments this morning, I was a little taken aback. I don’t think the questions themselves bothered me. I love questions. But I don’t think I was able to make out the the tone or spirit of the questions. And the fact that the questions were submitted anonymously made it all the more difficult for me to discern whether or not this is a person I should ignore. So in the future, I won’t answer direct questions that are posted anonymously. You don’t have a write out a bio. But you should at least give me your name. However, I can’t resist these questions. So I will make an exception here.
Here are the comments: Why do pastors travel so much? Well, why do YOU travel so much?Is it a calling? popularity?Is it to subsidize a mediocre compensation package from their local church?Why?I know traveling and preaching at meetings USED TO be the “in thing” but why do pastors do 20 – 30 revivals a year with a growing membership at home?
Admittedly, I think it’s kind of strange to defend the fact that I am a preacher who is passionate about preaching. I have been called to preach. It is what I do. I am in awe of God’s grace toward me and count it a privelege that the Lord would use someone like me to do something as important as this. And I am still a young preacher, who is gratefully surprised that I am invited to preach as often as I am. And I still become rather eager about the opportunities I get to preach the word. I recognize that I am getting older and now have changing responsibilities. And I trust that in the days to come I will be wiser about the invitations I accept. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to apoligize for preaching. It is pretty interesting that there are many preachers who have no reputations for actually preaching. Yet, they are celebrated as great “men of God.” May God raise up many more men who are committed to faithfully proclaming the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ as every opportunity.
Back to the questions… Is it a calling? I am not sure I would that terminology. I know that I am called to preach. But I don’t know if it would be accurate or appropriate to define my calling any more narrowly than that? Is it for popularity? All I would say to that is that you should go back a read some of my previous posts and answer that question for yourself. What I do is anything but glamorous. The toll my preaching schedule takes on me is more obvious than any of the rewards. But that is not just true for the traveling that I do. It also applies to my regular schedule of duties at MSMBC. As for compensation, I will say that I am not wealthy, but Mt. Sinai takes care of me and my family. And I don’t have any needs. This frees me to travel to preach without concern for money. I have never taken a invitation based on potential compensation. I never know what I am going to get, if anything, when I go to preach. I have never checked-up on a pastor or church before taking an invitation, so see how well they will treat me. I have never asked for a certain amount. I have never complained to a pastor about how much he has or has not given me. I have never refused a return invitation on the basis of finances. I have never… well, you get the picture. It is not about the dollar for me. Period. And those who know me well can vouch for me on that.
I am not sure what the commentor means when he/she says that traveling to preach used to be the in-thing. I don’t know what that means. Really. And, yes, I am a part of a growing and loving congregation. However, I do not believe the growth of MSMBC is directly related to how much I do or do not travel. There are growing churches where the pastor is not very accessable at all. And there are non-growing churches whose pastors never travel to preach. I am convinved at this point that the growth or lack of growth of a church is ultimately a matter of the sovereign providence of God. Indeed, there are human factors of faithfulness and fruitfulness that are involved. But the Lord Jesus Christ is the sole and sovereign head of the church. It’s life, health, and growth are in his hands.
Now, let me make a confession. I think, at this point, that I preach too much. But I make this statement with much fear and trembling. In my posts, I often speak of how tired and homesick and whatever I am. But none of that compares to the great fulfillment I receive by seeing people feed on and grow from the word of God. I have had to repent many times for sitting in a service wondering why in the world I was there, only to later see the Lord use my feeble preaching to change people’s lives. It’s an amazing experience. In a recent conversation about my schedule, I made the comment that if I didn’t go to a certain place, my sermon would not be missed. My friend rebuked me. And I am glad he did. It was a thoughtless, presumptuous, and sinful statement. I do not know what God is up to in these matters. But I do know that I want to be a part of it. May the Lord help me to do better at putting first what he tells me to put first when he tells me to put it first, so that he will be first in every area of my life. Sola Deo Gloria!