The family was sitting at breakfast, dressed in their Sunday best, when Dad shuffles in, still in his pajamas, unshaven, and looking as if he had just rolled out of bed. “Honey, you are going to make us late for church.” said his wife.
“I’m not going today.” He continued, “No one likes me, no one listens to my ideas, people talk about me, and I don’t think the elders care about me. Tell me one good reason I should go?”
His wife rolled her eyes, “Honey, you are the preacher!”
The prophet Jeremiah said, “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jer 20:9)
Matthew Henry’s comment on that passage is, “Since by prophesying in the name of the Lord I gain nothing . . . but dishonour and disgrace, I will not make mention of him . . . nor speak any more in his name; . . . I will . . . silence myself, and speak no more, for I may as well speak to the stones as to them.” It is a strong temptation to ministers to resolve that they will preach no more when they see their preaching slighted and wholly ineffectual.
If you preach long enough, you will face challenges. You will not think that you are making a difference in people’s lives. You will feel alone. One preacher was asked if he ever thought about quitting preaching. He replied, “Yes. Every Monday!”
Every preacher faces challenges!
Every preacher faces challenges – from the world, from friends, from the congregation. There come moments when you feel like you have hit a wall. You preached, pleaded, maybe even pounded, but no one seems to listen. Like Elijah you feel alone. Like Jeremiah, you want to keep quiet, but you can’t. The reason you became a minister (preacher) is because you had a desire to spread the message of God’s love.
It is during those times of discouragement that I remember Jeremiah’s message: “God’s word is like a fire in my bones, I am weary of holding it in, I CANNOT!”
p.s. I felt the need to post script. This article is a result of reading a post of Facebook from another preacher. He was feeling down about some things going on in his life and work. As I was thinking of him, I thought how many other preachers have faced, are facing, or will face similar stresses.