“Did you hear the one about the minister, the priest and the rabbi…?” Chances are, so have most pastors. Preacher jokes are as plentiful as lawyer jokes. That’s OK. Some of them are truly funny. Pastors need to take the word of God seriously, but not so much themselves.
What preachers see from their side of the pulpit can be comical too. Ask people to picture the perfect pastor and they might tell you he’s 30 years old and has 35 years of experience. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He dedicates himself to the young people but spends all day with the elderly. He makes 15 visits a day and is always in the study working on his sermon. He has one brown eye, and one blue.
Sadly, if you ask some ministers to describe their calling, it is apparent they see themselves as CEO’s instead of shepherds, politicians instead of preachers, motivational speakers instead of Bible scholars. Sadly, if you ask some parishioners, it is apparent that this is exactly what they want.
Years ago, a fellow name Macartney was delayed for several hours in the town of Dijon in France. To kill time, he went sight-seeing and walked into an old cathedral there.
There he saw a finely-wrought stone pulpit. Just beneath it was the figure of a recording angel, holding a tablet in one hand and a pen in the other, his face turned upward toward the pulpit, waiting to hear and record what the preacher preached.
Macartney later remarked: “Always the angel stands below our pulpits. He is not waiting to put down things which the congregation might like to record – in pleasure or displeasure – but whether or not the words of the preacher are true to the gospel with which he has been entrusted.”
Whether in the ornate sanctuaries of age-old congregations, or in the rented quarters of inner-city mission churches, or in the thick air of third-world villages, those entrusted with the gospel in the word, the water and the blood have but one undeserved honor and assignment from the Lord of the Church – to be faithful ambassadors of Christ, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable with the word of our God which endures forever!