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Joe McKeever Christian Blog and Commentary

22 Things Pastors Need to Know about Their Job

  • Joe McKeever
    Joe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (, as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
  • 2016 May 11
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They call you “Preacher” for a reason.

This is your primary calling.

You counsel people who are dealing with problems, but no one calls you Counselor.

You visit people in their homes and you minister to them during times of crisis, but they don’t refer to you as The Visitor.

You administrate and cast the vision for the church, but no one calls you the Administrator or the Vision-Caster.

They call you Preacher because nothing you do is as important or as critical to the work of the church as your preaching.

In preaching, you…

–touch the most people of anything you do throughout the week.

–minister to every person in the building.

–address the great issues of the world, the primary concerns of people’s lives, and the main message of Scripture.

–are given the bulk of the worship service when every eye is turned in your direction, every ear attuned to what you have to say.

–demonstrate why God called you into this work.  After you get the knack of what you are doing, you will find this the high point of every week.

–help people to live forever.

However, there are some caveats to note about your preaching ministry…

–a hundred other tasks–all of them important–will compete for sermon preparation time, all trying to crowd their way onto your calendar.

–You will sometimes have to cut short your preparation due to any number of reasons. Let those times be rare if you can help it.

–You will be tempted to preach yourself–your pet theories, your story, your opinions, and even your convictions.  Guard against this, and do it only when the Holy Spirit specifically calls for it.

–You will constantly have to rein in the ego. That overinflated sense of self gets a kick out of being on display before the crowd (and in some cases, before television audiences). It craves for recognition, for degrees, for appreciation and awards.  For that reason, you will do as the Apostle did and “die daily.”

–You will be tempted to preach old sermons which were given a good reception, rather than do the more important work of returning to the Scripture and seeking God’s word for this people for this day.

Always be on your guard against ego, laziness, and detours.

And a few suggestions on how to keep your sermons sharp, biblical, relevant, and faithful…

–Have a few sermons “in the works” all the time.  In earlier days, we would have suggested you get some file folders for each sermon. These days, with laptops, you will find other, more convenient, ways to do this.  But have several sermons in the preparation stage at all times.

–When you are traveling, driving, walking, waiting, or lying awake at night, be thinking about sermons. Have note-taking material handy. If you wake up in the middle of the night with a great thought–as you will–you must discipline yourself to get up and write it down at the moment. Otherwise, you will not remember it come morning. This is a fact.

–When you are reading the Bible or the newspaper or any book, be alert for the Holy Spirit to snag your attention on something urgent. He loves to do this, but only the alert will get it; the others will sleep right through some of the best sermon illustrations ever.

–Finally, try this once in a while.  Tell a half-dozen of the sharpest teachers in your church to be thinking of a particular passage of Scripture. Then, bring them together in one room. Tell them you plan to preach on that passage “soon” (meaning, as the Lord leads) and you want their help.  Ask them to talk about the passage, sharing their best insights as well as their questions.  Your job is to take notes while asking the occasional question.  At the end, ask them to pray for you and your preaching, and send them on their way.  A hand-written note of thanks that week will be in order.

Throughout your ministry, you must keep telling yourself…

–Preaching is not about me.

–This is “from Him and for them.”

–I cannot do this by myself, will not do it in the flesh, and must not do it to please men.  “I am not adequate for these things; my adequacy is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

–As much as I love to preach, my passion is not for preaching but for the Lord Jesus Christ.

–He must increase; I must decrease.

–I will be constantly bringing my preaching ministry to the foot of the cross, asking the Lord to teach me anew how to do it more effectively.  I will never reach the point where I feel I have arrived.

–I will pray daily for the Lord to sharpen my preaching, heighten the glory of its effect in people’s lives, and deepen the impact upon all who hear.

May the Lord be glorified in your preaching.

Publication date: May 11, 2016