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Preaching: A Character Profession

October 4, 2007

A pastor and preacher I have greatly admired for several years is R.Kent Hughes. Though I don’t know him personally, Kent really appears to be that rare blend of gifted teacher and faithful pastor.

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So for our first Thursday with a pastoral focus, let me direct you to a recent interview with Dr Hughes. In particular, the following quotes leapt out at me as poigniant warnings for devoted preachers:

“Necessary to the whole matter of preaching is that you be a man of God in the sense that you are a man who lives in the Scriptures, applies the Scriptures to your own soul, and lives a life of constant repentance so that the truths you urge upon your listeners are evident in your own life. You’re sympathetic to them and pursuing them in your own life so that when people think of you, they think of a man of God even more than a preacher.”

Because of his [Reverend Verl Lindley] influence, I understood that preaching is a character profession and that your ethos, what you are, is very important. I understood about a type of leadership that wasn’t perfunctory but led by example, a leadership that was patient for change.

“…there’s an illustration from Phillips Brooks in which he talks about a man who preaches like an old-fashioned railroad conductor, announcing destinations to which he’s never been. By the mere announcing, “All aboard to Albany! All aboard to Chicago!” he imagines that he’s been to Albany and Chicago. And so you can have men who are self-deluded in that they haven’t been to those destinations. They preach repentance to people though they haven’t truly repented, or they passionately preach of sexual purity to men though they’re not living it out themselves. These pastors become talking heads rather than men of God.”

Find the whole interview with Art Azurdia here.

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