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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #10: Preaching is the Easy Part!

Young Atlanta Pastor Confession #10: Preaching is the Easy Part!

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the tenth point; " The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #9 - If you're not sure that The Lord called you to be a pastor, quit now because you'll eventually do it anyway."

Jeremiah 20:9(NKJV) - Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

As a student I competed in track, football (not American) and swimming. I still remember the adrenaline rush before getting down in the starting blocks for track, taking the field for football or climbing up on the blocks for swimming. Still, there was something that excited me even more. Academics. Do you know how some people describe themselves as hopeless romantics? I was a hopeless academic. I loved school. What can compare to the fresh smell of brand new text books? Mmmhmmm... Or what's more exciting than a final exam in a class you know you're totally dominating? Oh yeah!

On my last day of high school at Hillview College in Trinidad I just hung out in my school uniform until late in the evening knowing that it was the last day I would ever wear it. On my last weekend of graduate school at Georgia Tech in Atlanta I spent the entire weekend in the computer lab. A friend and I worked on a project while eating cold pizza and drinking hot soda with no sleep. I went home on Monday morning, slept a few hours and rushed back to campus for an 8:00 AM final. Needless to say, I made it out of that program alive. What a rush!

Yet nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like walking up to a pulpit to preach the gospel. Sometimes, it feels like everything is happening in slow motion as the worship team trails off and the hum of the instruments slowly wanes. I imagine myself sitting in the preacher's locker room with some Beats headphones over my ears listening to some Christian rap. My feet are in an ice bucket, a towel is over my head and my Bible is by my side. I've zoned out the world preparing to preach the message of my life. Pastor Duncan, you're up! Oh yeah. What time is it? Word time! What time is it? Word time! OK! That's a bit corny but you get my drift.

My parents say I was a loud baby who cried so much that they just knew I would grow up to be an opera singer, preacher or at the very least, the town crier. 🙂 As a preteen, a lady once handed me a note after church with a prophetic word about my future as a prophetic mouthpiece for The Lord. I still keep that message with me as a reminder of what God called me to do. So, when The Lord told us to start a church it was an easy decision. Here I am Lord, send me! I no longer had to wait for a pastor to give me the opportunity to do what I was born to do. I could do it every week.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

God put His Word in my heart and I couldn't hold it in. That's one of the reasons why I've written five books and hundreds of blogs. The Word was like a fire shut up in my bones so The Lord let me use my fingertips as the outlet. I had the gift of speaking so it was my responsibility to use it for God's glory. Therefore, if accepting the call to pastor meant more opportunities to preach, God didn't have to ask me twice. I was ready to go. Lord, where do I sign up? I'm ready to preach. Well, to my surprise, preaching was the easiest part.

What makes it easy is the fact that it's between you and God. He gives you a message, you package it for the people you are reaching out to and then you do what you are gifted to do; deliver it. Done! If a pastor preaches what God says and the people understand the message, he's done his job. It's each person's responsibility to do something with The Word that they receive. Isn't that the point behind The Parable of The Sower? All the sower can do is sow The Word. He can't control the soil. So preach The Word and go home. Right? Well, not exactly. There's more to the job. A whole lot more. Regardless, I had good reason to believe that preaching was my top priority once I became a pastor.

Jeremiah 3:15(KJV) - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Feed the people of God with knowledge and understanding. That sounds like a great job description to me. Count me in. Where do I sign up? Teach The Word of God, answer questions and help people understand what God is saying. That's not too bad. It's kind of like being a TV preacher without being on TV, right? The 20 minute clips they share on their programs look easy enough so what's the big deal? If you want to be a pastor, you need to be ready to preach. That may be true but there's more to being a shepherd than providing spiritual food to God's sheep.

Ephesians 4:11-14(NLT) - Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

Pastors also have to provide protection and guidance to the people of God because the enemy is all around trying to deceive them. We have to equip people to do God's work, build them up and help them mature in the things of The Lord. We have to be vigilant in the spirit to protect people from spiritual wolves, lions and bears which come in from outside to snatch them away. On top of that, we sometimes have to protect them from each other because everyone inside the fold isn't there for the right reasons. Last, but not least, we have to protect them from themselves.

Sometimes people make poor decisions and put themselves in situations where they need someone else to intervene and help them out of their mess. That's where the real work of a pastor takes place. Preaching is easy compared to the rest of the full job description. It's an awkward position to be in sometimes because we don't want to be in the middle of "grown folks business" but we don't have much of a choice. If we don't at least inquire about what's going on in people's lives, we're not doing our jobs. We have enough to deal with in our own lives but God put us on this earth to serve others.

Hebrews 13:17(NLT) - Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

Whoa! That's heavy. One of the great advantages of a small church is that we can pray for every single member by name each morning. I don't know what we will do when the numbers are too much for that to be practical anymore. I guess we will have to make general declarations over the congregation unless The Lord puts specific people on our hearts. Nonetheless, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. We have to watch over the souls of those we lead and God will hold us accountable for how well we do so.

We teach, we pray, we check up on people, we show up when they need us, we intervene in drama, we do what we have to do but we ensure that the people God has assigned to us are edified, equipped and developed to maturity. Now, lest we get carried away, there's another side to this story. Some pastors can get so caught up in the daily grind of dealing with people's issues that they lose track of their primary purpose. When that happens, God has to send an Apostle, Prophet or other spiritual father along to have a conversation with the pastor that goes a little something like this.

Exodus 18:13-27(NLT) - The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.” “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves. Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.

Stand before The Lord on behalf of the people. Tech them God's decrees. Give them His instructions. Show they how to live. Those were Jethro's instructions to Moses. Once those are done, take care of only the major disputes among the people. Assign a group of leaders to handle everything else. There's the balance. Like Moses, pastors are not supposed to wear themselves out trying to solve everyone else's problems even though many are more than willing to do so. Our first order of business is prayer and teaching people The Word of God then we can take care of everything else.

Acts 6:1-4(NKJV) - Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Here it is again. The pastor's first role is prayer, then ministering The Word, then taking care of the rest of the church's business. Yet, when you first start a church you feel like you're spending more time on so much else. As the church grows, God sends capable leaders who can do the work of the ministry. We thank God for a team of people who really help us out now.

We started the church in a hotel meeting room so we had to bring the equipment from home each day in two cars like a garage band on a low-budget tour. After dragging everything into the room and setting them up I had to change because I would be drenched in sweat. Then we sang and played instruments during prophetic Prayer and Worship, then we led worship, then I needed a cough drop to soothe my throat before I preached. It wasn't easy but it was worth it.

After a year and a half, The Lord made room for us in Decatur, GA eliminating the need to set up and break down the church each week. That freed up an extra hour of sleep each Sunday that we are very thankful for. Everyone pitches in at the church now so we can focus our energies some more. We still lead all the church outreach efforts because it's our responsibility to get it done. We also still lead worship. Until God sends outreach and worship teams, we still have to do it ourselves which brings us full circle. When I signed up for this job, my desire was to preach. However, as we got deeper into it, we realized how much else we have to do as the pastors of the church since we don't have all the people we need yet.

So as we end this installment I'll repeat Confession of a Young Atlanta Pastor #10 - "The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."