The Preacher is a Servant

The Preacher Is... Part V

This is the fifth post in a series based on John Stott’s book The Preacher’s Portrait. In this book, Stott outlines five distinct roles that the preacher exemplifies, according to the New Testament. These are:
1) A Steward
2) A Herald
3) A Witness
4) A Father
5) A Servant

The servant metaphor deals with the preacher’s power and motive. First Corinthians 3:5 clearly identifies the preacher as a servant; 

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.

The sneaky trap that the preacher can fall into is one where flattery convinces him that the people are there to serve him. The preacher falls into the trap of working to impress the listener with a great oratory, rather than serve them in the context of worship with the truth.

“…sermons are not intended to be enjoyed.  Their purpose is to give profit to the hearers, not pleasure.  Sermons are not artistic creations to be critically evaluated for their form.  They are ‘tools and not works of art.’  A sermon is never an end in itself, but a means to an end, the end being ‘saving souls’.”[1] 

We again look to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians for confirmation on this truth:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”[2]

As a servant, the preacher must realize that the power does not rest in his words, but in the word of God that he is called to faithfully proclaim.

“If the sinner must humble himself to receive God’s word, the preacher must humble himself to proclaim it.”[3]

The common trap for preachers today is to settle for being popular instead of powerful. “Powerful” preaching must be Spirit-led and Spirit-saturated proclamation of God’s word by a humble servant.

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[1] Stott, 102.

[2] 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

[3] Stott, 111.