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Discerning and Judging the Preacher

Updated on September 22, 2013

Classic depiction of last supper.

The classic depiction actually would be the foot washing.
The classic depiction actually would be the foot washing. | Source

What is a Preacher?

Discernment is a gift given to all but nurtured by too few. Judgment in the day to day is critical, or else we run into the car in front of us or step off a cliff. Judgment is given to all, but is a skill needing constant work. A preacher is not someone who tells you what to think but one that helps you to think and feel and believe. So we must discern and judge. Discerning and judging and evaluating our preacher is critical to our survival as a good believer.

Yes I am Christian. So this article will reference Christian notions. However I hope that what ever faith you practice you can apply the concepts set forth herein.

Today this author was up far before dawn finishing his thoughts for the preaching to do today. Yes I am a preacher man. And so in organizing my daily meditations on today's scripture it struct me that I should evaluate again; what should a preacher man do, and how shall he do it.

Please note that this preacher man is a man. So I normally try to include the feminine in works that I do. But in this article I will keep in in my gender.for I would hope in doing so, I do not presume to ignore the differences there may be for our fine fine women of the service.

Service and Servant.

He who last shall be first. The last supper was so cool in so many ways however my favorite part is the washing of the feet of the disciples. I always like to give it a twist that I hope some will recognize: One small step for Jesus but one giant leap for mankind. It was a total and unequivocal demonstrative command that those who lead must first and foremost serve. And they must do it without reward expected or received. For yes they serve man but only as a by product of serving God.

A servant is someone who follows commands blindly when required and exercises judgment and a willfulness to serve on one's own when required. It takes some wisdom to know the difference and when either is appropriate.

A preacher must first appear to us as a servant who is less than us. This is critical. If they are seen as a leader first and a servant second the preacher man needs to change.

Keep your eye on the ball

I love this depiction of Christ -- let me tell you why.
I love this depiction of Christ -- let me tell you why. | Source

Just look at the eyes. They are firmly focused.

I have been so privileged in my life to have played and coached all the major "ball sports" Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer. Of course my coaching has all been with children. We teach one thing first. " keep your eye on the ball" (humorously in fact this first lesson with little ones is so it does not smack them in the face) But perhaps there is a metaphor there regarding keeping your eye on God lest he smack you in the face ;-)

Jesus kept his eyes focused on God. God was his master.

So our preacher man must be firmly committed and appear firmly committed to focusing his attention on praise to God. The counseling the service and the sermon must come in second and you must both see it and feel it in the preacher. A preacher man cannot possibly lead unless he is first led. Unless he is a follower first he may not be a leader.

I include this song. I promise that if you listen a few times and then sing along and do it every day. You will remain in service and focus.

The order of a service

I love all kinds of services. But I require two things. Relating the scripture the preaching is based upon. And a liturgy of some sort that includes community confession of sins and community prayer. Of course I like it to include music and some sort of sharing of the peace with each other.

And it must be accompanied by two things also -- an offer to join in meaningful Bible study and a community gathering afterwords.

My wife and son and I like to attend a service that goes with an Old Testament reading, Psalm singing by congregation, an Epistle reading and then the Gospel reading.

Funny that. I had been reading for the congregation the Epistles. Then I was asked to read for our English speakers the Gospel. I declined for clearly I was not worthy. I took my eye off the ball. So God hit me with it in the face that week and let me know it was not about me. It was about service. Believe me when I was later asked to start teaching and preaching I could not say "of course i would love to serve" quick enough.

So if the preacher does not make certain that you know what scripture he is preaching about. Be weary.

In the early Christian churches this was not the symbol.

That old wooden cross
That old wooden cross | Source

As for me I walk into a church and either do or do not feel the love.

Love is essential and it must be palpable. Sometimes I am in a bad space in my head and heart. That does not matter. One should be able to walk into the place of a preacher -- where he does his preaching and feel the love. I mean it seriously. These two commandments that all the rest hang upon are sacrosanct. If the preacher man gets up and hides behind a large podium and preaches anything that does not ring true with love there is something wrong. Oh podiums are fine if the are not security blankets or a means of separation between the preacher and his flock and some teaching of unrpented sin and consequences are all good and fine. But we all know the difference between when a parent disciplines his child in love or in anger. Preacher men get to get angry at certain activities but not with people. We just lose that right when we accept the service.

Grade your preacher

Does your preacher act in some accord with these suggestions?

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What does your preacher do?

Does your preacher tell you what to think?

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Summary

If you put all of this together into a practice you will find that the role of the preacher man is not to tell you what to believe or think. It is to motivate you. To suggest direction. To do a little teaching and a whole lot of loving. So as I finish up preparing for my preaching today I must evaluate myself and my intentions. As you must do of your preacher.

The early sign of the church was basically Christ as a shepherd with a sheep over his shoulders carrying him into safety. Shepherd do not yell commands to sheep. They, through practice and patience gently push them in a general direction that the sheep soon realize is either greener pastures or home to safety.or to quench their thirst.

So I hope in your life your preacher does not tell you how to think and feel but lends some guidance so that your path is headed in a grace filled direction.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't have a preacher so I'm not sure what to say about this article. LOL I will say that your definition of the job description is right on....guidance and motivation go a long way for results....I wish there were more preachers who understood that.

      Have a great day buddy! Raining cats and dogs here.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Good buddy send some of that cats and dogs our way we are about ready to fry here - at least cooler but no moisture not even the slightest dew.

      Just a side thought for you. Preachers are those folks that get us to think. It does not matter our belief system. If you help me to think and contemplate more deeply you help guide my faith.

      Sorry dude but that makes you my preacher. although that seems funny -- just like a good lie, a good joke requires some truth in it. lol

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 3 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      great write my friend .. words to think about ... I will now go about remembering these.. .

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I have got to live by them lest I fall short in my calling. Especially with youth we must be ever mindful and caring.

      You really have been an inspiration to me ever since I met you. Thank you Michael

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 3 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      you are so right about the youth .. they have been absorbed by the technology that we have given them.. it has made them lazy as to how to aquire knowledge and has caused such distraction from the beauty of nature and social causes that they think they can change society from their device instead of participation.! I see the students at college .. they can not wait to get out of class to look at their phones .. they walk around like zombies .. staring at the device that holds their attention..! Alas they know not what they do .!

      this will be our downfall ..I think .. but what do I know ..I am but a poet .. I write form the perceptions of my own mind..

      thank you for the comment , I am humbled that I can influence someone with spirit as you .. I am but a common man with my own shortcoming ..which I try to deal with every day .!

      Michael

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Michael -(that was my birth name before my adoption and Christening, I wanted that angels' name for our Gabriel but alas my wife was persuasive)

      I take a portion of my teaching time and have them whip out those devices and we share mobile apps for daily meditations and Bible links --- shucks since I cannot stop it, perhaps I can guide it a tad.

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 3 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      excellent way to show them a new way ..!!! bravo .. such creativity!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 years ago from Texas

      I like the concept of being a follower before a leader. But. . .why should a preacher first appear as less than the people he guides? A preacher is only human, just the same as everyone else and subject to sin the same as everyone else is. I think he should be equal, but not less. And a servant because that is love.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Shanmarie, that is a wonderful point and here is the thinking as I saw it -- of course that could change with your marvelous insights. After all that is the nature of being a student as I hope to always be.

      There is this phrase - concept: He who is last shall be first. And he who is least shall be greatest. So I always ask how does a sinner like me earn any kind of right to sit in the front and preach? How do I deserve to be treated with the honor and respect of some one worth listening to and in certain senses followed?

      Well certainly through my deeds and not my training and faith. For so many have so much more than I.

      Only by being the least and the last can I be the first and honored. Oh truly truly you speak wise that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord and should treat each other equally. But a preacher man does not get that luxury he must place others before and be humble before all.

      Maybe just for me, but the day that I am as "good as" the man with more troubles is the day I become not a servant. That poor widow in Somalia with 3 hungry mouths to feed is not my equal, I shall never have her strength and faith. Equal to God yes but not among men.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 years ago from Texas

      I respectfully disagree. First, I will clarify by saying that I like the concept of a follower before leader whereas Christ is concerned. Second, if our sins and pain are all equal in the eyes of God, why should you see yourself as any less in either capacity. You have strengths in other ways than that widow, perhaps in helping the burdens of so many others. To say you are less,to me, implies you are worth less, which is not the case.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ah now I see, I think. You think that we are all born exactly alike which = equal. And that a scumbag child rapist is as good as a volunteer social worker raising 3 beautiful children and working as a nurse.

      Shanmarie I went through a time thinking that until I met angelic people and child abusers. Until I met abusive father/husband who then abandoned their children and people by their very presence light up a room.

      Shanmarie we are all equal under the law and under God. But it ends there. Some people are good and some are bad. I would never feel that my self esteem is wounded because someone is a better person than I. Thank goodness we have diversity which includes Great people.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 years ago from Texas

      Um. No. That's not exactly what I think, but I do think most, if not all, people have the ability to be good. Why else preach salvation?

      Me, I have a strong desire to make a difference, but I fall short more often than not and I know it. I don't really think it is a matter of who is the better person. It is a matter of love, and as far as a preacher is concerned, s/he may fail sometimes, too, and that's okay because we are all only human. I look for overall character in a pastor. I want a man that is both humble and sincere, both willing to preach and to learn, etc.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Shanmarie, how would I learn with out fine provocateurs and teachers like you?

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 3 years ago from Texas

      Hahaha...see, I enjoy the learning process as well....yet that could be construed as an insult. Instigators are not usually well thought of and I don't intend to be one.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful read Eric and thanks for sharing.

      Eddy.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Eddy. It may be a little harsh and like rules. But sometimes we have to set standards high or remain less than we can be. Happy day down to you all in paradise.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I have not found a church yet. I have tried, but so many of them spend the first 20 minutes singing. The preacher spends 15 minutes preaching, but only uses one or two scriptures to teach about. I would rather learn more. I wish I could ask questions, but you can't do that right after a sermon.

      Thanks for writing this.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      They can and do in our church. At first I thought it was weird. Then I had a hard time getting back to rhythm -- Now it is just a cool thing. And we do not even break before some bible study. Last week with the youth I used the open your bible close your eyes turn the pages and pick one with your finger and let us study together method. Really to teach about how fun and interesting and always useful the bible is. And we always find one that someone says "Perfect I needed that today!!"

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Preachers really do have to be pretty perfect according to what the bible says, or pastors. I think the important thing is to make your congregation want to come to church, look forward to it and bring others with them not just because new carpet could be bought with more members but new souls could be save for the Lord. You give food for thought. ^

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      It is life changing. You cannot "get" good on Sunday morning. And it really does not matter if anyone knows that you committed sloth during the week -God does.

      We have trouble with attracting new because the young do not care so much for the Vietnamese portions of our service. But the way shall be revealed.

      Thanks much.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant as always Eric; leaving much food for thought.

      A sign of a great read.

      Voting up and sharing.

      Eddy.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Eddy, Good to see you this morning. Now if I ever get too preachy you warn me now - promise. That is what friends are for. (did you write a hub on fences a bit ago?)

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India

      Such a lofty stuff that the more I read,the more meanings of words I get. Two aspects of it strike me most- one that a preacher should be servant first and second that he /she should follow first before preaching others to follow something. Eric, beauty of words is not in placing them artfully in a place. Rather, what overall effect such words create- in that lies the beauty of words. You create such an effect, a magical effect. Really loved your profound thoughts !

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Peace and love Hashish. I am going to call you that from now one. Jest call me e.

      (yes that misspelling was intentional)

      I think I am really lucky ducky to have you as a friend.

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