Perhaps few people, including the preacher himself, realize the beating he gives his body over the process of twenty years of very active ministry. For the Pentecostal preacher, the loss of sleep over a period of possibly weeks is a factor in undermining his health. Luckily, this is not usually continuous and, according to scientific findings, the physical stamina snaps right back as soon as more sleep is available.
By J. T. Pugh
The life a preacher lives through the week has a strange way of following him into the pulpit each Sunday. It is impossible for a preacher to separate his ministry from himself. The mechanic may clean his tools, put them in their box, lock it and go home for the weekend. His tools remain outside of himself and he can cast himself in a role other than that of a mechanic on the weekend. His tools do not follow him on his excursions. It is different with the preacher. He, himself, his emotions, his convictions and his reactions are his tools.
Thus the minister’s reputation is first scrutinized before his work is accepted. The craftsman examines his tool before starting his work. In like manner the preacher, as a man, must live on the scales of judgment – his own introspections, and the scrutiny of the public as well. In all other fields and professions the workman is able to divorce himself, at least in part, from the tools and demands of his trade, but with the preacher it is not so. He is the tool, and the tool cannot run away from itself. His sermons and all his work are invariably colored by the honor or dishonor of the man himself. It is impossible for his work, however well executed, to rise higher than the repute of the producer.
The goldfish bowl of his public life allows him no private seclusion where the venom of his worse self can be dissipated in private, hid forever from the knowledge of his congregation. Sin always finds the preacher out; more so, it seems, than anyone else. And if sin could be hidden, its stains would be upon the preacher’s heart and soul. Thus even hidden sins affect their retributive work on the preacher, for his heart, soul and emotions are the tools of his trade. When cankered by deceit and rusted by sin, the work is sure to be faulty. The preacher is “an epistle known and read of all men.” For the life of him, he cannot promote a spiritual good which is beyond his present experience.
This being true, the preacher must spend some part of his time looking at himself. All tools must be well-kept, clean and sharp if they are to produce vessels of honor in the Lord’s house. It would be well to examine some of the qualities that must reside in the life of a minister if he is to be entirely perfect, wanting in nothing.
The minister should be physically strong. Mysteriously, a church pastored for some length of time by one person has a way of assuming some of the traits of the pastor’s personality. The aggressive man of decisive action seems to project this same robustness into the life stream of the church. This being so, for the sake of his charge, the preacher should attempt to stay healthy. His service and preaching being in part a product of his physical body, his health will obviously have a bearing on the same.
A doctor once confided concerning a good preacher who passed away after surgery. “I know the Reverend would not have thought of taking a drink of whiskey, but he has done the same thing that whiskey would have done to some of his organs by his habits of over-eating.” This should not be. For a great and good ministry to come to an end at age fifty or before, because of a physical breakdown, is such a waste.