What Is a Good Minister?

by Jefferson David Tant
adapted from an article by Ken Weliever

“He’s a good preacher,” is often used to describe various gospel preachers. But what makes a good preacher? How would you define one?

Is he a great orator? Can he captivate the audience? Does he preach soothing words? Can he preach without offending anyone? Is he a good organizer? Does he baptize many?

If you are looking for a clue to help define a good minister, Perhaps the apostle Paul can give us some insight. In his letter to his young preaching companion, Timothy, he had these words: “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (I Timothy 4:6).

Preaching Is a Ministry

“Ministry” is from the Greek “diakonos,” the idea of “serving,” whether in helping the needy or in teaching the Word. In Acts 6, seven men were chosen to look after the widows, leaving the apostles with more time for “prayer and the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4) Too often preachers are given so many chores and administrative tasks, etc, that the ministry of the Word suffers. Paul instructed Timothy to “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (II Timothy 4:5).

A Good Minister Preaches the Word

Paul warns against the dangers of false doctrines and says to pay no attention to “myths and endless genealogies” (I Timothy 1:4). “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season" (II Timothy 4:2). A good preacher feeds on the Word and is nourished by it. It is his sustenance, source of strength, guiding light, and compass to direct.

A Good Minister Practices What He Preaches.

Paul referred to athletic exercise to urge Timothy to engage in spiritual exercise (I Timothy 4:8) This leads to godly living, speaking the truth in love, godly conduct, loving care for others, faith-based priorities, and moral purity. Edgar Guest’s words remind us of the importance of the preacher’s example. “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.”

A Good Minister Progresses in the Word

Paul further exhorted: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (I Timothy 4:15). This progress means spiritual growth and involves the heart. It is growing mentally and emotionally. And it guides a pure conscience born of prayer, devotion, and Bible study.

Progress doesn’t end at a certain age. It continues. Paul continued to “press on” while an aged minister in a Roman prison. My Bible teacher, Homer Hailey, when in his 60s, said, “Boys, I’m still a student.” That spirit should continue until the day we die. When the “good minister” embraces his primary ministry, preaches the Word, practices what he preaches, and continues to make progress, it “will be evident to everyone.”

Finally, the advice of D. L. Moody is appropriate for all of who preach and desire to be a good minister: “Cling to the whole Bible, not a part of it. A man is not going to do much with a broken sword.”

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