I’ve just been reading Keller’s excellent book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Scepticism. It is full of gems – if you’re involved in any kind of Bible teaching ministry I would encourage you to read it. I was much struck by this superb reminder of the importance of character above all other things:
A Christian minster has three basic roles or functions – preaching, pastoring/counselling, and leading. No one is equally gifted in all three areas, and yet we must do them all. The greatest factor in the long-term effectiveness of a Christian minister is how (or whether) the gift-deficient areas in his skill set are mitigated by the strong grace operations in his character. The leadership literature advises us to know our weaknesses, our gift-deficient areas. It usually tells us to surround ourselves with a team of people with complementary gifts, and that is certainly wise if you can do it. But even if you can, that is nt sufficient, for your gift-deficient areas will undermine you unless there is compensatory godliness. What do I mean?
You may not have strong public-speaking gifts, but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will make you an interesting preacher. You may not have strong pastoral or counseling gifts (e.g., you may be very shy or introverted), but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will enable you to comfort and guide people. You may not have strong leadership gifts (e.g., you may be disorganized or cautious by nature), but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will mean that people will respect and follow you.”
(Keller, Preaching, 196)
It is no surprise that the pastorals make so much more of character than of skills.
How can we help one another grow in godly character and how do we prioritise that in our conferences and colleges?