Preach, Preacher, Preachers, Preaching
Catherine Marshall, A Man Called Peter
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952), p. 43.
The faithfulness of a steward consists in his dispensing to the household exactly what has been committed to him; the faithfulness of a witness lies in his declaring with honesty and candour exactly what he knows, neither concealing part of the truth, nor distorting it, nor embellishing it. It is so easy to exaggerate, to give to others the impression that we have progressed further along the narrow way than we really have. We must have the honesty to confess the truth. We should not be afraid to say with the apostle, &ls;not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect' (Phil. 3:12>, A.V.). The true witness is devoid of any suspicion of hypocrisy; he is transparently sincere.
All this lays upon us who are called to be witnesses to Christ the solemn obligation to take heed to ourselves, and not to neglect the culture of our own soul, lest we become dumb witnesses and have nothing to say. Truly the apostles were right to give themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word, for preaching without prayer is an empty mockery. There is no greater need for the preacher than that he should know God. I care not about his lack of eloquence and artistry, about his ill-constructed discourse or his poorly enunciated message, if only it is evident that God is a reality to him and that he has learned to abide in Christ.
The preparation of the heart is of far greater importance than the preparation of the sermon. The preacher's words, however clear and forceful, will not ring true unless he speaks from conviction born of experience. Many sermons which conform to all the best homiletical rules, yet have a hollow sound. There is something indefinably perfunctory about the preacher of such sermons. The matter of his sermon gives evidence of a well-stocked, well-disciplined mind; he has a good voice, a fine bearing, and restrained gestures; but somehow his heart is not in his message; it can not be said as a young clerk in a dry-goods store once said about Peter Marshall, &ls;He seems to know God, and he helps me to know Him better.'