If I Could Start Again as a Preacher – Ronnie Scherffius

If I Could Start Again as a Preacher – Ronnie Scherffius

There is not one among us who, if possible, would step back into time either to restart, redo, or remove completely from our lives that which we deem unsatisfactory. Such, however, is folly. It is not possible to return to the past. Water that passes under a bridge flows ever distant. A day that vanishes to the evening returns not with the morning. Shortcomings and failures should not remain to hinder us but rather be forgotten (Phil. 3:13). We should not be distracted from our present course but diligently focused on our present field of labor (Luke 9:62). Nevertheless, revisiting the past of both our successes and shortcomings, can be profitable and provide lessons for the present.  Our Lord said, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Paul reminded the saints at Ephesus that “in time past,” they had been Gentiles without hope (Eph. 2:11, 12). Thus, we can learn from the past as well as help others who are just beginning to chart their course.

With this in mind, as a preacher, if I could start again, I would prioritize committing the Word of God to my memory. I am convinced there is little more beneficial to a proper understanding of the truth than a heart and mind filled with it. The ability to recall and connect passages helps one better to see and to teach the Bible as a whole. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with His Word (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The soldier who takes the victory is most familiar with the Sword (cf. Eph. 6:17b; Heb. 4:12). The psalmist worded it best, “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” (Psa. 37:30-31).

If I could start again as a preacher, I would spend time with older preachers. Joshua had Moses as a mentor (Num. 27:18-23). Elisha had Elihah as a father (2 Kings 2:12). Mark had the encouragement of Peter (1 Pet. 5:13). Timothy increased in wisdom having “fully known” Paul’s manner of life (2 Tim. 3:1; cf. 2 Tim. 2:2; 1:13). I have benefited greatly, and cherish beyond measure my association with such preachers a Curtis Cates, Garland Elkins, and Robert R. Taylor, Jr. I have often encouraged my sons, “Sit among older preachers when possible and listen to their conversations. Gain from their knowledge. Grow from their wisdom.” If I could start again as a preacher, I would, early and often, take time to spend with those battle-tested soldiers of the cross.

If I could start again as a preacher, I would learn early when to “sit and listen” and when to “rise up and do.” It is no coincidence that Luke places the account of Jesus in Martha’s house (Luke 10:38-42) immediately after the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). From the parable, we are instructed, “Go and do” (37). Yet, in Martha’s house, Mary was praised for sitting and listening (42). How many times have I stood to do, only later to wish I had remained seated, listening!

Finally, in retrospect, if I could start again as a preacher, I would spend more time with my family. I know of no man who, looking back on his life, has said, “I wish I would have spent less time with my wife.” “I wish I could take back those days spent with my children.” The opposite is true. James posited, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14b). The work of a preacher is a blessed work. It is a rewarding work. It is a busy work. Preacher, remember, you have a family.

Time moves swiftly (Job 7:6; 9:25, 26). It cannot be recalled. I cannot redo the past but I can communicate those things I believe would have made me a better preacher. These are a few.