We should praise God for the spiritual giants of our faith. We should praise Him for the lessons and wisdom gleaned from such ministries. However, we must remain mindful of the road before us. We must remain faithful to our call.
I have been reading two classic books this month. One is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers, the other, John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Both are having a profound affect on my thinking about pastoral ministry. My thoughts below were inspired by these two books.
I could have chosen any number of pastoral giants for the title of this post. The truth is, many pastors attempt to imitate the pulpits of their favorite preachers. Such behavior is far from new. It has thwarted the power and passion of pulpits for centuries.
There is nothing wrong with learning from and deeply respecting preachers or other ministry leaders. In fact, much can be gained from reading about the lives of brothers and sisters who have gone before us. Furthermore, and perhaps more specifically, befriending local preachers and learning from their experience and techniques can greatly increase our ability to present the truth to our own listeners. Yet, when we seek to emulate the temperaments, preaching styles, and personalities of these preachers, problems arise.
First, if we attempt to use the style of our favorite preacher, our congregation will pick up on our lack of genuineness. Not only will they spot our contrived message, such an approach will distract them from coming to a knowledge of the truth. Lloyd-Jones has said, “People do not want to listen to a string of quotations of what other people have thought and said. They have come to listen to you; you are the man of God, you have been called to the ministry, you have been ordained; and they want to hear this great truth as it comes through you, through the whole of your being.”