...and you preach.
You preach maybe 2-5 sermons/messages a week. Maybe two on Sunday, maybe a Sunday School, maybe a Wednesday night, maybe a men's group or some-such. Bi/tri-vocationals are blessed if they can manage 1-2 messages a week (I speak from experience), but you have a bit more freedom in terms of time and opportunities. Sure, you may have administrative and other responsibilities the others don't, but you may have time and support they don't, as well.
My question for your ponderment today is as suggested by the title: do you strive for balance in your preaching?
I have to chuckle at the variety of fire-alarms and flashing lights that word has to set off, so let me get right to defining. Do I mean "balancing" law and gospel, "balancing" social justice and personal ethics, "balancing" theory and practice, "balancing" evangelism and edification, "balancing" Old and New...? What kind of "balance"?
I define "balance" the way the man defines "Gun Control": hitting only what I aim at. So by "balance" here, I mean preaching everything in the Bible, evenly (cf. "all Scripture" is God-breathed and profitable; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
"Impossible! Can't be done!" comes the instant response. Oh, I don't know. Given a long enough ministry, and enough messages a week, and good health... you could do it. But I know what you mean. You can't preach every verse in detailed exposition with just two or three messages a week in a normal 3-5 year stint. That's probably true.
In response, first I'll stray from my point. (Hey, it's my post; I can do that if I want. I mean, as long as it's in the post and by me, it's on-topic, right? Moo hoo wah ha ha ha! Ahem.)
Having said that, I do think it's low to take a church, bid them to trust your leadership, and all the while have your eye on the door — like a man dating a marriage-minded woman and pitching woo for a few years while busily scanning the lonely-hearts web sites for Miss Perfect.
Plus, maybe we should re-examine our approach of focusing everything on Sunday morning. Sure, most people are there, at that meeting; I understand that, I don't rail against it. But while you're preaching John or Romans on Sunday morning, you could be preaching Deuteronomy on Tuesday and Proverbs on Thursday. And you could rotate it regularly, so that each series gets moved to each venue.
Okay, enough crazy-talk for now. Back to my actual point. And as I loom in upon it, please, stay focused: I am not talking-about, I'm talking-to. I'm talking to everyone reading this post, and obviously particularly to the pastors reading this post. I'm not covertly making comments about this or that brother-servant. I'm talking to you, not about him.
My point is I think it's a "fail" just to have a long-term ministry based solely on Paul's letters, or the Gospels, or any other portion in exclusion to the rest. Oh, I know that some of the most famous and effective preachers are mainly known for preaching Paul, or the Gospels; or for spending fourteen weeks on a single conjunction.
In reply, let me say what I said (decades ago) to the gent who blamed the Holy Spirit for his teaching long, long, long Bible studies, citing the example of Paul preaching until midnight in Acts 20. "Well then, brother," said I, "you'd better also be able to raise the dead, as Paul did when Eutychus dozed off."
Maybe Right Hon. Rev. Dr. Thingummy can have a profitable ministry belaboring antepenultimate accents and the characteristics of each of the seven horns, a month at a time; but we lesser lights should probably have different goals.
All of it. The whole Bible. Make that, I say, your aim. I know you may well not hit that target — after all, what good target do we ever consciously hit dead-center? But it's best to have a good target, isn't it? I think that is the best target for a preacher.
That's the best way we can follow Paul's example:
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:26-27)Now, I know that the right man could declare "the whole counsel of God" from a single well-chosen verse. But most of us are not that man. Most of us are far dimmer bulbs than that. If we're candid, we know that we have our hobby-horses, our strengths, and our weaknesses. We naturally are inclined to play to the one, and to flee the other.
It just has always seemed to me that the best way to keep ourselves honest is to go verse-by-verse through books, and to do it broadly. "Best," I say, but of course not only and not infallible. Every one of us has it in us to make a bee-line to our favorite subject, no matter what the verse. ("Of course, as we all know, 'Parbar' starts with a 'p'... and so does propitiation. Speaking of which...")
But supposing you're pretty good in going around the New Testament — what of the other two-thirds of the Bible? Were they not still written for our instruction (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11)? Does that largest portion still have the power to make one wise resulting in Christ-centered salvation and wisdom for Christian living (2 Tim. 3:15-17)? Does it still point to Christ (Lk. 24:27, 44-46)? Does the Holy Spirit still speak to us through it (Heb. 3:7ff.)? Then why not dive in to it at least equally with the NT? When Paul said "whole counsel," do you really think he meant Romans and Ephesians, or the Gospel of John, and not Deuteronomy and Genesis and Isaiah?
You see, when I conceived of this post, I was really going to target the need to preach specifics along with generalities. I might have taken you down the well-trodden path of comparing Ephesians 1—3 (doctrine) and Ephesians 4—6 (application). I was going to scold preachers who preach exclusively on Biblical texts dealing with about justification, election, providence and the like without ever preaching on Biblical texts dealing with marriage, parenting, work, politics and the like.
But then I realized: preach the Word, and that will be taken care of. Preach Romans... and Proverbs! Preach Leviticus... and 1 John! Preach Matthew... and Zechariah!
Preach the Word to the best of the ability God gives you, and I think you're far likelier to hit balance, as defined by God.