The greatest preacher in the world isn’t that guy who you saw speak at a conference last summer. The greatest preacher in the world isn’t the guy who has sold 12 million copies of the book form of his last sermon series. The greatest preacher in the world isn’t the guy whose sermon clips are shared all over social media.
You’ve probably never heard the greatest preacher in the world. That’s because every Sunday he only preaches to the people at his church. He’s not America’s pastor. He’s not the voice of anything. He’s just a guy who loves the church and tries to do what God tells him to do. Unlike a lot of other people who talk for a living, he wants to say less so that God can say more. And he believes that God says more through the Bible. So as he sees it, he’s more of an instrument in God’s hands than a celebrity on a stage.
The greatest preacher in the world is brave too. Not because he preaches against abortion. Any preacher can do that. He’s brave because he’s been known to preach through Deuteronomy. He knows that no one in his church gets their life verse from Deuteronomy. He doesn’t care that phrases from Deuteronomy never find their way onto bumper stickers like other, more popular portions of the Bible do. So even though he knows that people will fall asleep and maybe he’ll get a few less reports afterwards about what a blessing his sermon was, he preaches Deuteronomy anyway. It’s not so much that he’s stubborn. He’s just faithful.
Have you ever noticed something about the famous sermons you’ve seen shared on social media? Very few of them are from Deuteronomy. They’re from Philippians. They focus on the time when Jesus calmed the storm or when Paul taught the Corinthians how to love. Rarely do they address ceremonial laws. Calmed storms get the crowd cheering. The Feast of Booths does not.
But the greatest preacher in the world isn’t in it for Facebook shares, YouTube views or pats on the back from people who like to tell him how awesome he is. His eyes are set on something higher. Rather than pleasing people who one day have his poster up on their wall and the next are throwing darts at it, he is content with glorifying the God who never changes (James 1:17).
I don’t believe that there’s a top 25 list of preachers in heaven. The angelic version of Dick Vitale doesn’t ramble on and on in heaven about some diaper dandy just out of seminary who’s making waves over at the First Baptist Church. Sadly, there are a few of those lists here on earth. And many preachers put in 70 hours a week just to make that list. But not the greatest preacher in the world.
The greatest preacher in the world is more concerned with the growth of his people. And he knows that they’ll never grow if all he ever cares about is hitting a home run sermon every week by playing it safe and sticking with the popular passages of the Bible. He’s content with a base hit. Or taking one for the team and hobbling down to first base.
Perhaps you’ve heard some of the great preachers in your time. Maybe you got to see Billy Graham in a stadium, John Piper at a conference or John MacArthur at a seminary chapel. That’s good. Those are all fine men and powerful preachers who have greatly impacted me and millions more.
But it could be that the greatest preacher you’ll ever hear is the one you listen to, or fall asleep to, every Sunday morning. He may not have the booming voice or the large following but he has a heart that beats in time with God’s and a will to do what gives God the most glory. You can spend your life listening to a talented preacher and never really have anything to show for it. But if you’ll take the time to listen to the man who only wants to say what God wants said, nothing less and nothing more, you can’t help but grow.
So don’t wish away your pastor. Stop wanting him to be more like Voddie Baucham or Matt Chandler. And by all means, don’t trade him and the church he leads in for having what you call church with your laptop and your favorite podcasting preacher. If you’ve got a pastor who loves Jesus and faithfully preaches the Bible, even Deuteronomy, you’ve got a lot.
You’ve got one of the greatest preachers in the world.