“HOW TO PICK A PREACHER, Part 1”
Wayne Coats (1927-2013)
I would pick a preacher that has common sense, studies hard, is constrained to preach the Gospel, is temperate in all things, and doesn’t expect others to kow-tow to his every whim.
I am not writing this article based upon a lot of preacher picking experience, in fact, I have never been faced with the serious task of picking a located preacher. I sometimes think the situation might be comparable to selecting a good watermelon out of a large field of melons. One dear old brother remarked, “I’ve never preached a sermon but I’ve read the Bible and heard enough preachers to know when a man is preaching the Bible.”
I believe if I attempted to pick a preacher to locate with a congregation, I would demand as my number one qualification that a preacher have an unusual amount of common sense. Brethren with common sense can determine if a preacher has any common sense. But someone may object that a knowledge of the Bible should be the first priority. If a man is to preach and work with a congregation, common sense would demand that one would study to know the Book. If one knew ever so much Scripture and had no common sense, I would not be interested in supporting him. Common sense is a marvelous quality which is not always so common.Sometimes we may refer to a brother as having a lot of horse sense which has been defined as stable thinking. Isaiah said, “The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider”(Isa. 1:3).
Back during the thirties, my dad had several mules and mares, and one old donkey. Old John was not the most intelligent animal on the farm but he knew his specific stable or crib. He knew where he belonged. Even a dumb ass knows that much, which is not true of some preachers. A Gospel preacher needs to know where he belongs. He needs to have enough common sense to work within his sphere. We are not born with common sense. One big dummy in a congregation can ruin most everything.
At the Divinity School the curriculum was arranged in order to assist denominational pastors to become Administrators, if that was what they wanted. It is amazing how many youthful Administrators we have who virtually sit at the controls while elders grin. So many of the youth ministers are nothing more than social service Administrators. Honesty demands that we admit this.
A second qualification which I would require if I picked a preacher would be to find a man who studies very hard. It seems strange that all the brethren in secular work need to arise early and punch the clock for an eight-hour work day but the preacher can still be in bed snoozing the time away. I know there are brethren who stay up late to do their studying. God bless them, but there are others who are nothing more than sleeping goof-balls. One brother was asked when he studied and his reply was, “I did my studying fifty years ago.” It was pretty obvious. Brother N. B. Hardeman used to compare such men to green watermelons, i.e. they got pulled too green. The very height of pleasure for me is to take my trusted Bible in hand or a good sound, sensible book written by a faithful brother, and let the hours flow by. It is difficult to preach on themes where ignorance is so prevalent. I know! There have been subjects assigned for me to deal with in Lectureships concerning which I was totally ignorant. Give me a couple of months to prepare and I promise that by diligent study I can dig out that which I need to present. No preacher should ever get up before an audience and begin to apologize. If he is stupid, dumb or ignorant, the brethren will realize it without having to be told. If a preacher isn’t ready, he needs to get ready or not try to preach. Apologetic excuses will not help the situation. Begging for sympathy will not solve the problem of being unprepared.
I would pick a preacher who knows how to be temperate in all things. Titus was to teach the aged men to be temperate (Titus 2:2). The bishop was to be temperate in all things (Titus 1:8). It isn’t necessary in this article to deal with every area wherein temperance is to be practiced but we must know that temperance is a part of the beautiful cluster described in the Bible as the fruit of the spirit of God (Gal. 5:23).