Unfortunately, I have heard the question brought up too many times in my short life, “Who is the greatest preacher?” First, that is an opinion question, that will be answered differently from person to person. What I want us to think about is, what prompts that question? Have preachers measured themselves in the past? Have members favored one opinion over the next because of who said it?
To me, the greatest preacher in the world, is the one who cares about souls and souls alone. I do not think there is a “greatest preacher” status; but there is a disposition of mind that the greatest preachers have, they want to win, protect, nurture, and grow souls. Their priority is souls and souls alone. Unfortunately, people look at outward things when it comes to their favorite preachers; well he speaks really nice, he is always sharply dressed and prompt, He doesn’t bore me, the list goes on. How many times do you hear, I love this preacher because of his love for souls, he may not be the best speaker, he may not get invited to all the speaking engagements, but he always goes out of his way to win and strengthen a soul.
I think we can learn something from Paul, in his letter to the church at Thessalonica. Context: (Read Acts 17), Paul came to Thessalonica after being persecuted and thrown into prison at Philipi. He does as was Paul’s custom, enter and preached in the Synagogue, He stayed for three Sabbaths. After three Sabbaths, Paul was chased out of Thessalonica and Berea by the Jews from the Synagogue, He has not heard of their faith until Timothy comes and reports to him.
Paul worried and prayed for the faith of the members at Thessalonica because of how much he cared for their soul. He does not care if they remember his name or ask how good his preaching was but he wanted to see them in heaven. When he finally receives the news that they have remained faithful and have endured the persecution, he is overjoyed. In chapter one, he could not stop commending them on their faithfulness and the love that they had. They had become examples to all whom they came in contact with. they had relied upon the hope of Christ to see them through the hard times and Paul says that it made his joy complete. For Paul, to see them at the second coming of Christ, being raised with him, was his joy, his hope, and his crown of exultation!
Today, too many preachers are concerned with appearance, concerned with their name being big in the “brotherhood”, to concerned if people like them and are enjoying the preaching. Instead, what they should be concerned with is souls, that alone will make them a great preacher and give them recognition in the eyes of God. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach! Preachers, elders, leaders, members, wake up and make sure that the church is about winning and nurturing souls before anything else.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.”
If we care about souls, everything else will fall into place.