SOME PREACHERS QUIT BECAUSE OF UNREASONABLE DEMANDS PLACED UPON THEM.
A preaching brother and I finished Memphis School of Preaching the same year. He was to move to a small congregation about 25 miles from where I would be laboring. So, we moved in the same U-Haul truck--his furniture went in first, and then mine. He had no sooner begun working with the congregation than they let him know that he was to spend forty hours a week knocking on doors and doing personal work, and in his spare time, he could prepare his lessons. At the time, they had four small children. The brethren also thought that the preacher's wife should babysit their children--free of charge! Those brethren did not deserve a preacher! In less than a year from their arrival, they were packing their bags again. Imagine, putting a family through such? Brother W.L. Totty used to say that many brethren do not understand what is involved in preaching. He said that if they had to get up one lesson, they would have a better appreciation for the work.
If preachers must take care of the buildings and grounds, do secretarial work, run errands, and a thousand and one other things during the week, they will have nothing to unload when preaching time comes. This is not to say that they should think that they are too good to do such tasks, if needed. However, time must be given to uninterrupted study. Some well-meaning brethren think that it is their lot in life to keep the preacher company during the week. They will call him or drop by to chat with the preacher, as if the latter has nothing else to do. Would they think of doing that to someone who works in the secular field? This does not mean that if someone is seeking spiritual advice he cannot call on the preacher or even an elder in the Lord's church (cf. Gal. 6:1,2). The greatest counseling that anyone can get is from the word of God (cf. Psa. 33:10,11; Prov. 19:20,21).
Though preachers must guard their study time, they should not think that they are above visiting someone in the hospital or a nursing home. Yes, it is the duty of all Christians to visit, but preachers may have more time to visit than members who are working at secular jobs to provide for their families. Ability plus opportunity equals responsibility. Christianity demands that all be concerned about the sick and dying. When one visits the sick, he is visiting Jesus (cf. Matt. 25:40).
Before a preacher commits to work with a certain congregation, he is wise to thoroughly discuss all aspects of his work with the elders of the church. Asking plenty of questions ahead of time is prudent and will potentially save a lot of problems later. Getting all expectations clearly defined is imperative so unpleasant surprises will be minimized. If a preacher finds himself in a situation where the congregation's expectations of his time are simply too much or unreasonable, he should communicate that to the leaders as respectfully as he can. Perhaps he will persuade them to change. Otherwise he risks "burning out." If he is unable to change the minds of the leadership, rather than quit preaching completely, it might be best for him to look for another congregation for which he can better use his talents in the Lord's kingdom.
We will conclude this series in our next lesson.