I wouldn't be the disciple I am today were if not for being a preacher.
And that statement isn't a judgment about preachers being more holy than other Christians. Preachers know they aren't the best disciples in their congregation. Instead, it's a confession about who I would be without the structure preaching brings to my life.
I need the weekly rhythm of studying Scripture and listening to God on behalf of my congregation. I need the positive peer pressure that accountable Christian leadership brings to my life.
I would be a much worse person were it not for God's call on my life to preaching.
But what has transformed my life most as a preacher isn't what you think it might be.
-It's not the hours of prayer, though that would change anyone.
-It's not the hours of study, though I'm grateful for knowing the Bible.
-It's not the hours of elders' meetings...which needs no explanation.
What has changed me most is the daily Front-Row seat I get each day to the awful tragedies that occur in the lives of people in my church and my community.
I see the pain of couples who have experienced an affair.
I see the pain of parents who lose children to suicide.
I see the pain of widows/widowers who are lost in life without their spouse.
I see the pain of addicts who waste half of their lives to a bottle, a poker table, or a computer screen.
I can't help but hug my wife and tell her I love her after counseling a couple that is struggling to find their love for one another again. I can't help but squeeze my kids a little tighter after the funeral of a 17-year old child. I can't help but call my parents and express my appreciation for the way they raised me after hearing addicts explain that their addiction started as a way to numb the pain of their father's abuse or their mother's neglect.
And I'm starting to realize that I get those reminders much more often than others do.
Our culture teaches us to hide from the pain of others.
But I would encourage you to:
-Attend more funerals. Funerals change your outlook on life.
-Visit people in hospitals. Hospitals change your outlook on health.
-Comfort friends who are going through divorce. Divorce changes your outlook on marriage.
-Walk beside friends with addictions. Addictions change your outlook on the value of moderation.
Each of these activities are part of my job description. And without them, I would look much less like Jesus.
Some preachers need to preach. Otherwise, we might not be disciples of Jesus at all.