SOME PREACHERS QUIT PREACHING BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THEIR FAMILIES.
All of us have known men who were good preachers, but their wives or children pulled them down, hurt their influence, and caused shame in the community where they labored. Men, both living and dead, have had wives who did not want them to preach; yet they faithfully labored on in the vineyard of the Lord. Some men late in life decide to leave secular work and determine that they want to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. They may give up all to train in some school, but their wives oppose them. Their mates, instead of standing behind them in a supportive role, kick and scream at their husbands all the way through school and then into some field of ministry. Never an encouraging word comes from their lips. Those men who keep their hands to the plow under such circumstances deserve our utmost respect and appreciation. Some men, however, are not made of the same mettle; so they quit. How sad.
A supportive wife in one's labors is a great blessing. Job did not experience such. When trouble came to Job's home, his wife spoke the following to him - "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job replied to her destructive words with wisdom - "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:9,10). Job served God faithfully despite his wife's discouragement.
Hosea the prophet did not know what it was like to have an exemplary wife. Gomer was unfaithful to him, having had many lovers. She played the harlot. Yet, Hosea continued to do God's bidding in prophesying to Israel. The book of Hosea has been described as "one long impassioned monologue, broken by sobs." Hosea's love for his wife, Gomer, depicts the great love that God had for Israel, his bride. How could a man take back a wife who over and over again was unfaithful to him? Yet God took back Israel time after time. Who can imagine that kind of love and loyalty? Hosea served God faithfully despite his wife's discouragement.
Sometimes a preacher may be of sterling character and have a godly and supportive wife, but his children may bring shame on the family name. Under such circumstances, a preacher's influence is hurt; and some have quit preaching because of it. I am not saying the preacher should quit preaching, but I can understand why he would--at least temporarily. It is granted that there comes a point in the offspring's life that he is responsible for his own actions. Ezekiel wrote - "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezek. 18:20). However, the preacher may reason: "If I failed in the rearing of my own children, how can I advise others from God's word?" A man might be a great success in the church, but if he loses his own children he will feel like a failure--to some degree--as a father. David was a great king in Israel, but he had children who were rebellious, even trying to take the kingdom from him.
SOME PREACHERS QUIT PREACHING BECAUSE OF INTEREST IN OTHER AREAS.
Politics, education, sports, and honorable business pursuits are not wrong in and of themselves. Yet, Paul told Timothy - "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier" (II Tim. 2:3,4). Our interest in these things, if we are not careful, can grow in us to the point that we become entangled in matters of this life. Jesus, in explaining the parable of the sower, described the thorny ground in this fashion - "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Mark 4:18,19). Preachers can develop thorny hearts, too. When this happens, they quit preaching. Could this be one reason why Paul instructed Timothy - "Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (I Tim. 4:15,16)?
SOME PREACHERS QUIT PREACHING BECAUSE OF IMMORAL LIVES.
And quit they should--at least for a time. Their influence is damaged. For example, how can they preach on the purity of the bride of Christ, the church, if they have been unfaithful to their wives? How can they preach on being godly husbands, if they have been ungodly? How can they instruct on the proper rearing of children, if they have been poor fathers? Can they preach the truth on these matters? Yes, but it is difficult for brethren to forget the past. Yes, individuals can be forgiven of all their sins, but even though God forgives, brethren will often not forget. Trust gained over many years can be destroyed in a moment's time. Regaining that trust will take time. It was not gained overnight; it will not be restored overnight. That's just the way it is, brethren.
Preachers, preach the word. Always set the right example. Live a life suitable of the gospel of Christ. Then one can say, as Paul said - "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (II Tim. 4:6-8).
As we wrap up this series of lessons, let it be stated plainly: It is a tragedy when a preacher quits preaching! There is no question that it is the greatest work in the world. Physicians do a wonderful work, trying to heal the body. Good lawyers are needed to defend righteous causes and to help convict the criminals. However, the preaching of the soul-saving message, the gospel of Christ, is the greatest work in the world because of the very fact that it involves saving souls! God had only one begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and He was a preacher. Some of the greatest men in the world have been preachers--John the Baptizer, the twelve apostles, and the great apostle Paul--who was without peer in dedication and devotion to the cause of Christ. Yet despite the fact that preaching is the greatest work in the world, some men quit preaching for a variety of reasons, but none of the reasons require one to quit proclaiming the words of life.
Preachers, if people reject the truth you speak and rebel against it causing you heartaches and headaches, you are in good company with the prophets of old. Don't quit, persevere! Relocate if you must, but keep preaching! If you aren't being paid enough to survive, find a way to supplement your income. Relocate if you must, but keep preaching! Don't be covetous and over-commit yourself financially. Don't love money and the things of the world; love souls and the spreading of the truth of the gospel! Don't fall into the mistake of letting your study time be supplanted by urgent but less important things. Study daily and you will always have worthwhile points to share in your sermons. Don't let lack of study destroy your continued potential for the Lord! If unreasonable demands are forced upon you and cannot be changed, consider relocating, but keep preaching! If your family isn't supportive of your labor as a preacher, remember that we must seek to please the Lord above all else. Encouraging families are very helpful to a preacher, but you can do anything even if your only support comes from God Himself. Do not allow yourself (for whatever reason) to become so involved in the cares of this life that you cannot continue to preach the gospel. Why leave the most important job in the world to pursue something of less significance and impact eternally? If you intend to maximize your influence for the Lord, you must live a pure and holy life to the best of your ability. If you do fall prey to immorality, you may have to cease preaching for a time, while your get back on the right path spiritually. You may have to relocate to get a fresh start, so to speak, but don't quit preaching forever if you really love the Lord and the proclaiming of His saving gospel.
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.