Pastors, Words Are Enough

By Joel A. Hess

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting a member of my congregation in a time of need. He had just been told that his cancer had spread throughout his body. His wife sat next to him. They both looked shocked and frightened. Doctors could give prognosis and possibilities, but nothing for sure. Pharmacists could prescribe pills that may or may not work.

All I had were words—God’s Word!

To his guilt and shame, I said, “You are forgiven!” To His fear of death, I proclaimed, “You will rise again!” I told them what they have been told many times before. I told them about Jesus—His death and resurrection and His promises.

Tears were dried and hope renewed; life overcame death!

With words!

Pastors, you are being set aside to carry these words to people. Words in sermons, words in visits, words with bread and wine, and words with water—these words give life! With words, you are truly, as the Germans say, a SeelSorger, a healer of souls. But more, you are indeed a healer of peoples.

Some time ago at seminary, a visiting preacher told us young seminarians that, in order to be a good pastor, we had to have a passion for people. You have to love people like Jesus did.

I have learned that you don’t! You just need God’s Word. His Word works. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Don’t let Satan fool you! As He told Eve, He whispers in every pastor’s ear, “You will need more than God’s Word!”

luther preaching

Paul writes, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

Preach the Word—in season and out of season. When it’s popular to be a Christian and when it’s not. When your people treat you great and when they do not. When the church’s budget overflows and when it does not. Whether you are sick or healthy, preach the Word!

Paul goes on, “for the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Well, the time has come! The world is getting dark out there. Many a pollster and even many a congregation member warn us that Christianity is “out of season.”

Preach it, teach it, and share it— in the pulpit and in people’s homes. At the bedside of the dying. At the front door of your enemy. The Word is life. The Word is light. The darker it gets, the brighter it becomes!

Trust it! Nothing else heals broken hearts. Nothing else causes faith to spring from doubt, even complete and angry disbelief. Nothing else makes an enemy a friend.

Now, brother, you are going to get down sometimes. You are going to fall down sometimes. You need the Word just as much as your people do!

In season and out of season, when you’re feeling down, when the people are arguing, and when you rehash your failures and mistakes, get into the Word and hear its healing words. But also get into the Word when life is great. When you feel unstoppable and everything is running smoothly and you start thinking your “you know what” doesn’t stink, stay in God’s Word. Only through it, God keeps you humble repenting and weak while letting Him be strong!

For a time will come when you will be in that chair, scared and broken, with tears in your eyes.  And God will send someone to you and give you His words, and you will be healed.