Preaching Articles

One day, I had a conversation with a friend who was seeking to discern whether the Lord was calling him to pastoral or pulpit ministry.

As he discussed it with me, he noted he had mentioned this matter to me several times before without comment from me.

He was right. I hadn’t responded. And I sensed he was waiting on a response this time.

So I prayed an emergency prayer to God about what to say. And what came to my mind is what my father said to me some 20 years ago about whether I should continue in the ministry: “If you can keep from preaching, do it.”

I was about 15 years old. And my father had given me the opportunity to preach his 11 a.m. service. I remember two things about that sermon.

It was the hardest I had ever worked on a sermon.

It was also the first time I received direct criticism about my preaching.

First from my dad. As he made his pastoral remarks, he reminded the congregation of our afternoon fellowship with a sister church. He informed them (and me) I would be preaching the afternoon service. He then promised I would not preach that long in the afternoon service.

This was his only comment about my sermon. Ouch.

Right after service, one of my dad’s associates was first to greet me. He told me how “long-winded” I had become (a polite term used for those who speak too long, I guess). Double-ouch.

Then, as I sat in my dad’s study after service, my sister ran in to kiss my cheek. She said she would see me in the next service, and apologized for rushing out, but she was in a hurry because I had preached so long. Triple-ouch. And strike three.

In comparison to the criticisms I have received about my preaching in later years, this was nothing. Absolutely nothing.

But these remarks knocked me off my feet that day. And though I was able to preach that afternoon service, I was swallowed up in a black hole of discouragement the next several days.

I couldn’t eat or sleep. And I would stay up at night, reading, praying and crying.


One of those nights, my father came into the front room and heard me crying. He demanded to know what was wrong.

I told him about what happened and how I felt about it. And I concluded I didn’t know if I wanted to preach any more.

When I finished my rant, my father said he understood and he would not sit up with me all night.

“The only advice I’ll give you is this,” he said as he got up to head back to bed. “If you can keep from preaching, do it.”


He continued, “If preaching is something you can get into and out of when you want to, it’s a sign the Lord did not really call you. So if you can choose whether you are going to preach or not, I recommend you don’t preach.”

That was all he said.

He then turned and disappeared into the darkness of the hallway as he went back to his room.

I was angry at how seemingly unconcerned my father was. I was also surprised at how his advice (or non-advice) was exactly what I needed to hear. By the Lord’s gracious help, I was able to pull myself together.

And I continued to preach. And I am still preaching more than 20 years later, to the glory of God.

By the look on my friend’s face, I am not sure he found my father’s advice to be very helpful. But it definitely helped me. Again.

As I wrestle with frustrations over my need to grow as a preacher, and as I face the various, inevitable challenges of my pastoral assignment, I need to be reminded my calling is not my choice.

I keep preaching because I do not have a choice. And I pray I will never have a choice in the matter. May the Lord graciously choose to continue to use me to herald the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” - 1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV)

H.B. Charles, Jr. is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, where he has served since the fall of 2008. He is primarily responsible for preaching-teaching, vision casting, and leadership development – along with all the other tasks that are a part of pastoral ministry.

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James Walker

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Thanks for sharing advice from a wise father. I firmly agree. It is the Lord that compels the "called" preacher to preach. I am obligated as a pastor to preach each Sunday. Sometimes I feel it is a grand opportunity to express God's Word to the people of God and other Sunday's I feel it is a chore that has to be done. I wonder -- if I were not obligated -- would I feel the desire to preach or not. Someday, I will know the answer to this question when/if the obligation is no longer there.

Brad Brucker

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Totally agree! Great article! There have been so many times over the past 18 years I've wanted to quit - a lot less these days, but I The Lord consistently brought the words of Peter to mind, "to whom would we go? You have the words that bring eternal life." John 6:68. I took those as "What else can I do?" For me The Lord has made it clear, nothing else is an option! God bless you!

Jeff Glenn

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Wow, great article and great advice, too! I tried to "walk away" from preaching/pastoring in 1999, but I just could not and, yes, I still experience times when I would like to walk away again, but I just can't!

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Good word.

David Raybern Rash

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Good word brother! He keeps us going when the going rough and He keeps us going when the going is good. But, we must keep going.

Bill Williams

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Just want to add the caveat that one does not have to be a pastor in order to preach.

Byron Sherman

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Excellent guideline for determining God's call to preach. I've met quite a few people who have thought they were called to preach yet they had no fire in their bones(Jer. 20:9). Without God's fire, God isn't there. And without God's call, we are only serving matter how spiritually convincing our internal self-speak.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Good reminder Bill W., and prying for God's best Mark D.

Chris Surber

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Well Written. I appreciate your capturing your father's seemingly direct-almost-harsh-honest tone in giving his advice to his 15 year old son. Thanks for the article brother.

David Buffaloe

commented on Jan 21, 2013

Excellent article. I've worked with several "momma" called and "daddy" called preachers. They not only don't last, they made my ministry hellish. When a young person comes to me and wants to surrender to the ministry I encourage them to reconsider. I love preaching and pastoring - but get beat up and chewed up by messed up people. So what? The only one I need please is my Lord, He called me!

Dr. Ronald Shultz

commented on Jan 22, 2013

The most excellent advice is often the simplest. Totally awesome, my Brother! Keep up the good work!!!

James Roberts

commented on Feb 6, 2013

Bro. Charles: Amen and Amen. I received that advice too as a young man and found it to be very valuable. I too am still preaching the Word as He sees fit. I pray that I will always be available for His use. Thank you for the reminder that our call is not ours but His. Glory!

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