Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Some clergy folk are a little more than just sensitive about what they get called. Around here there is a tradition of using the title "Rev" in front of the first name so when I came to Richmond Hill, I became known as "Rev. Bill." In my first appointment long years ago, I was commonly called "Brother Bill." Some have simply spoken to me as "Bill" and others as "Rev. Strickland." A few who wanted me to be more than I am have referred to me as "Dr. Strickland." And, of course, there have been a few names thrown my way which I would just as soon not repeat. But, I suppose the title which has followed me most over the years has been "Preacher."
Actually, being known as a preacher of the gospel is not such a bad thing. A man could certainly do worse. I must confess I enjoy preaching so much it seems inappropriate to think of it as work. I have often said, "It is the one thing about my work I would do for no pay. It is all the other stuff I do which requires the salary." I say it not to put down as unimportant the other tasks of ministry so much as to declare how much I enjoy preaching. I enjoy the work of study and preparation. I enjoy the time spent in the Word and in books doing research. I love that moment when light falls on the text in such a way that the work of the Spirit is obvious. I enjoy the moment of preaching. I am convinced that there is nothing we do as clergy which has the potential to influence so many for Jesus. It is something too important to ever be taken lightly by one who preaches.
When God called me to preach, he surely must have been at the bottom of the barrel on that particular day. A lot of really good candidates must have been saying, "No." I am so grateful that He did not turn away when I at first said, "Not me!" I am glad the offer was still there when I finally got around to saying, "Yes!" God's call to preach has made all the difference!