Kenneth R. Wade is the assistant editor of Ministry.

Friday morning, and no sermon to work on! I hadn't started preparations for one or even thought about what to preach! I faced a real crisis last week.

I'm a preacher. Have been for most of my adult life. I can't even remember taking a vacation recently when I didn't preach at least once. Last year on vacation in Israel I preached twice to our tiny congregation in Jerusalem.

But this Friday was different. Not only did I lack a sermon, I lacked a pulpit. And I had to face the reality that I had accepted a call to be an editor instead of a preacher. You can say what you want about an expanded pulpit, but what happens on a printed page is not what happens in a pulpit. God spent aeons giving us the printed page to reveal Himself. But when He wanted us to really know Him in full, He came in person in Christ.

I was about 13 years old when Elder Robert Pierson came to preach in my home church in Salem, Oregon. What an exciting day! They even had speakers set up in the junior room so that the overflow crowd could come and hear this great man of God preach.

I was at another crisis point right then, trying to decide between God and the world. I wish I could remember what Elder Pierson said that day, but I don't ev,en remember his topic. All I know is that something in his demeanor and message made a deep impression that gave my life direction that has lasted until now.

It is a tremendous privilege to stand in the pulpit not only to preach but to show what it means to be a Christian. Some of the sermons that had the greatest effect on me as a boy were sermons without words. Oregon camp meeting was always a highlight of my summer. I don't remember anything that the preachers said, but I can remember leaning over to my sister once and saying, "You know, the happiest-looking people I see around here are the pastors. There must be something to being a Christian."

When God wants to make sure His message comes across right, He sends it in flesh and blood. And I'm thankful for those pastors who had gotten the mes sage right—who preached from the pulpit and from their very lives.

The real privilege of preaching is the privilege of living what you preach before a congregation of people who see not only the man behind the pulpit but the husband, father, committee member, counselor, and friend. We've all heard the maxim "Practice what you preach." The tired old phrase can be revived by reversing it to read "Preach what you practice." When you turn it that way, you see that the minutes spent in the pulpit each week are a very small part of your preaching ministry.

The local pastor has one tremendous advantage over the electronic minis tries, which reach people via television, radio, cassettes, videocassettes, and even computer networks. No fleeting image on a phosphorescent screen, no voice no matter how often replayed, will ever model Christ to a man or woman as meaningfully as a pastor whose godly life preaches a sermon every day.

The privilege of preaching. It's still with me twenty-four hours every day.

And don't worry. I'll find a pulpit now and then, too! —K.R.W.

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Kenneth R. Wade is the assistant editor of Ministry.

August 1984

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