Opening the Preacher's Door
A review of the book "Behind the Preacher's Door"
My co-editor for Expository Files has recently edited a book of which I want to share some information with you. The title is "Behind the Preacher's Door". Frankly, when I first received the book while I expected it to be helpful and informative, I thought it would also probably be depressing. Very depressing. I imagined there would be accounts of failure and loss and heart-rending episodes of extreme damage done to the cause of grace. I thought that there would be treatments of moral failures and indiscretions and ethical lapses of preachers.
Well, there is that. And there was, at times, the emotional lows that come from thinking of the messes we sometimes let Satan convince us into making. But there was also something that was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. This book is wonderfully encouraging as it lays out specific guidelines and counsel on how to overcome. Perhaps the very weakest approach to these things is to simply deny that problems exist, or at least, that problems exist for me. This book lays the problem out, tells us what harm the problem can do, then instructs us how to crush its head. It is so refreshing to see these things dealt with honestly, plainly and competently as we are encouraged by a call to higher ground.
In addition to a brief introduction as to the purpose of the book and a foreword, there are eleven chapters written by ten men followed by some final thoughts. The first chapter is "The Preacher's Personal Devotion" and the second is "The Preacher's Daily Discipline." These two make a wonderful foundation for the rest of the book. Taking the first chapter, written by Gary Henry, as an illustration, "devotion" is defined and it is suggested that a test of our devotion "is not the soundness of our sermons" but rather the extent to which we yield ourselves to God in "the obedience of faith". If our hearts are truly the Lord's dwelling place, then there will be no conflict between the man I am in the pulpit and other public places and the man I am privately.
Additionally, this chapter suggests four factors which contribute to a "disconnect" that sometimes occurs between what a preacher is publicly and what he is privately. He might have allowed preaching to degenerate into a "job". He might be caught up in the "busyness" of preaching to where he has no time for his own spiritual refreshment. Preaching might have become purely intellectual or he might be merely lazy or indifferent.
Then, the writer makes five recommendations (and this is what I think is wonderfully beneficial about this book - the recommendations given by this and the other writers). He recommends unceasing self-evaluation, accountability to others, keeping God at the center, having a daily devotional discipline and to practice doing the difficult. Let me assure you that each of these five sections are so insightful in their elaborations on each point.
Other chapters in the book deal with the preacher and his ethics, the preacher's battle with pornography, the preacher's temptation to commit adultery, the preacher's money, The preacher's relationship with difficult brethren, the preacher's role in the unity of the local church, the preacher's friends, the preacher's toys (technology's impact) and the preacher as a husband.
I recommend this book. Understand that almost all of the recommendations would find application in every disciple's life, though the applications made in the book specifically deal with the preacher and his world. This book would be of value to young preachers and older preachers alike. Frank Jamerson, who wrote the forward, put it this way. He said, "It is my conviction that two classes of preachers should read these good articles. First, those who have made some of the mistakes addressed, and second those who want to avoid making those mistakes." If you are a preacher, I hope you are in the latter class. But if you are in the former group, I do believe that this book contains wise counsel on how to make your way back from the abyss.
Available from Spiritbuilding.com – www.spiritbuilding.com. Other dealers: Florida College Bookstore; Amazon.com; Barnes and Nobles.com; Books A Million online.
By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 17.6; June 2010