It is said of one of the early church’s greatest preachers, John Chrysostom of Antioch:
Though his sermons (which lasted between 30 minutes and two hours) were well attended, he sometimes became discouraged: “My work is like that of a man who is trying to clean a piece of ground into which a muddy stream is constantly flowing.” At the same time, he said, “Preaching improves me. When I begin to speak, weariness disappears; when I begin to teach, fatigue too disappears.”
Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). 131 Christians everyone should know (84–85). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
John Chrysostom (late 300s AD) formulated thoughtful questions to help one discern whether or not he should “aspire the work” of a pastor. Over 1600 years later, his questions help this 21st century pastor develop self-awareness towards maturity and faithfulness to the Chief Shepherd.
Don Lewis (same Don from previous post) brought Chrysostom’s questions to light, with commentary splashed here and there.
- Am I apt to teach?
- Do I love? This is the most effective apologetic (They will know you are My disciples by the love you have for one another. -Jesus).
- Am I willing to embrace the desert like Christ? I must have a deliberate withdrawal from the busyness of daily life.
- Am I a self-starter? Committed to life-long learning? Consider Paul: he wants books towards the end of his life, even after all he saw, did, experienced and taught. Bring the parchments…
- Am I a people-pleaser? Do I go along to get along?
- How am I doing personally?
- Am I thin-skinned? [Disciplemaking Pastor, Brother Tim often recalled a minister needing the heart of a lion, the gentleness of a lamb and the hide of a rhinoceros.]
- Can I stand relentless examination? Can I take unfair critique? The better a pastor preaches, the strong the critique if he falters.
- Can I handle praise maturely?
- Am I aware of burnout? What are my tendencies towards burnout? I must care for my own soul before caring for the souls of others. (Sort of like the airplane safety announcement “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others put on their oxygen mask.”