The Preacher Must Be Stable

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 13 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Teaching On Preaching)


Genesis 49:1-4, "And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall YOU in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch." Psalm 112:7, "He shall not be afraid of evil fidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."

For a successful ministry; there must be some predictability about the preaching. I have a little saying-it is almost a motto-"I want the services at First Baptist Church to be such that if a visitor comes on any given Sunday, he will find about the same thing that he would find on any other given Sunday" I want there to be a stability, a predictability and a consistency about the services, especially about the preaching. The congregation should not wonder in what kind of mood the preacher is going to be. They should expect him to act, not react! His temperament should lead instead of follow. A trip to church on the part of a parishioner should not be one of investigating whether the pastor is on the mountaintop or in the valley I often say to our people, 'Travel as fast as you can continue to travel. Choose a speed that you can consistently continue."

Jacob was dying. He called his sons to his bedside. Reuben was called. Jacob described him. He called him his strongest boy, his most thoughtful boy, his most talented boy, his most gifted son, his smartest, his most intellectual, his most proper, his most mannerly, his best leader, his most personable, and perhaps even his most handsome son! I am not sure that such a description is given about anyone else in the Bible.

Yet Jacob sadly reminds Reuben that he will never reach his potential because he is unstable as water! When the tide of sorrow rises higher, he goes to pieces. When the dark waters overflow in life, he loses control. When the storms of bad news billow over his path, he wavers. When the tempest of testing comes, he is unsure. When the battle comes, he is blown as waves by the wind. When tides of cloudy tidings loom overhead, his mast is torn. When rumblings of recession roar; he is ravaged. When the deep depicts a depression, panic grips him. When venomous, vicious, vindictive words are vociferously voiced about him, he becomes a victim of their vice. Like water above, foul winds move him. Like water beneath, strong winds ruffle him.

With all of his talents and abilities, Reuben was not usable because of one great weakness-instability

Give me the weaker one with less talent, less intellect, less ability and less personality whose anchor holds when his vessel is attacked by watery winds or windy waters. Give me the one who is stable when his soul is concerned but not destroyed by evil tidings, whose work is done midst the storm that idles others, who is not rattled by the morning papers, because he has already read his Bible! Give me the one who feels the wound of pain but it leaves not a scar of panic. Give me the one who possesses trembling but not whining. Give me the one who when his bosom heaves midst the storm, his will is not broken. Give me the one who stands when winds of disappointments cause his soulish ship to tremble but not to sink. Give me the one whom the storm takes off his calm but not off his course. In trouble he may fold his arms for a moment, but quickly he will take hold of the wheel. When the mountains are moved and cast into the sea, he will not detour to watch them fall. He will stay where he is and do his duty in the midst of the clash. When the death message comes, his heart is smitten but not stricken. His mind may be assaulted by a panic-stricken rumor, yet he fights on! He is undercut by the undercurrent of unemployment, but he is unwavering in his undying faith in his understanding God. Tidings of disease may come, but to him they bring no defeat. Tidings of defeat may come, but to him they bring no depression. Tidings of death may come, but to him they bring no doubt. Tidings of difficulty may come, but to him they bring no despair. Tidings of depression may come, but to him they bring no detour. Tidings of delay may come, but to him they bring no discouragement. Like Obadiah of old when he heard the evil tidings of Edom, he replied with the words, "We have heard tidings from the Lord."

When the evil tidings of recession come, he flees to Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." When tidings of depression come, he turns to Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

When tidings of death come, he reads John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

When tidings of want come, he reads Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." When tidings of fear come, he reads Psalm 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

When tidings of betrayal come, he remembers that there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. When tidings of disease come, he remembers that "He healeth all thy diseases." When tidings of loneliness come, he finds refuge in Hebrews 13:5, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and he content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

When tidings of weariness come, he finds Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." When tidings of disappointment come, he hides in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

When times of decision come, he looks to Proverbs 3:6, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." When tidings of suffering come, he races to Philippians 3:10, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death."

When tidings of trouble come, he rushes to John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me."

When tidings of temptation come, he scurries to I Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

When tidings of need come, he nestles in Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

When tidings of doubt come, he shouts, "I know that my Redeemer liveth!" When tidings of poverty come, he flies to Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." When discouragement comes, he hustles to Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."

Poor Reuben! Think what he could have done! Lesser men than he have crossed seas, won battles, built cities, marshaled armies and ruled kingdoms; yet one thing held him back! How sad! How tragic!

Though the story of Reuben is such a pitiful one because of his instability, it is infinitely worse for us. Reuben had no Romans 8:28. He had no John 14:1-3. He had no Jeremiah 33:3. He had no Psalm 37. He had no Philippians 4:13. He had no Psalm 23:1. He had no Psalm 91:1. He had no Proverbs 3:6. He had no John 15:7. He had no Philippians 4:19. He had no New Testament church. He had no pastor to preach to him three times weekly He had no Christian school. He had no written promises, but we do! Think how much more stable we should be! We have a full Bible; he didn't. We look back to the virgin birth; he couldn't. We have a record of the life of Christ on earth; he didn't. We know about the sinless life of the Saviour. We know about the vicarious death, the bodily resurrection, the heavenly ascension and His promises to return; Reuben didn't.

Think what might have been for Reuben, and think what might have been for us. May we possess stability, perseverance, predic- tability and consistency Stability without anything else can have some success. All else without stability will fall. Whatever else you get, by all means get stability.

There are many things that lead to this great trait, not the least of which is schedule. At last count, 507 people are either full-time or part-time employees of the First Baptist Church of Hammond and its related ministries. All of these have a boss on duty; yet, I have no boss! There is no one who makes me come to work on time. There is no one who orders me to study Since I have no boss, I made one-I call him my schedule, and I obey him and follow him faithfully This is so necessary for preaching. There must be a scheduled time for study There must be scheduled time for meditation. There must be a scheduled time for praying for the power of God. There must be a scheduled time for praise, a scheduled time for worship, a scheduled time for confession.

When God chose a name by which He would call His followers, He chose the word "disciples." This is very interesting. He wanted them to be disciples, or disciplined one~ To be successful in preaching, the man of God must be a disciplined one. He must be stable, consistent and, in a true sense, a disciple!

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