I remember my first Pastoral Ministry class in Bible college. One of my heroes and professors, Dr. Thad Dowdle, shared that pastoral responsibilities can be divided into preaching, caring, and leading. Broadly speaking, I find that observation to be true. Pastors cannot neglect leadership, care of the congregation or preaching. But I don’t believe these three aspects of pastoral ministry are necessarily equal in status. Preaching is the foundational ministry responsibility for the pastor. Paul admonished Timothy, “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). The neglect of preaching God’s Word is a ministry error that cannot be overcome.
It seems that in today’s culture, there is a dearth of pastoral leadership. Pastors must become better leaders. Pastors should avoid the foolish mistakes of dictatorial leadership or indecisiveness. Pastors should listen longer and be patient with people. Pastors should learn and apply timeless as well as contemporary leadership insights and lessons. But of all the things pastors can do to establish and strengthen their leadership, preaching is primary. Here are several reasons why I believe preaching is leading.
- Preaching is leading because it is the prescribed activity for most biblical leaders. Moses was a communicator of God’s Law, as was Samuel, Ezra, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (the Old Testament list could go on). In the New Testament, nearly every major leader exemplified their leadership through their preaching (Jesus, John, Peter, Paul, Stephen, Timothy, etc.). While there are certainly biblical leaders whose main role did not include preaching (Abraham, Nehemiah, David, to name a few), the intrinsic connection of biblical leadership to the preaching of the Word of God cannot be denied.
- Preaching is leading because it is the means by which we communicate God’s Word to others and thus establish leadership credibility. Ezra committed to study, do, and teach the Word of God (Ezra 7:10). He was able to rebuke, correct, and lead the exiles because of his commitment to God’s Word. Leadership credibility, which is vastly important for the pastor, is most naturally established in the preaching event, especially when it is exegetically sound and biblically authoritative.
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