“You Still Preaching?”
I am beginning to hear it more frequently, especially now that I am no longer pastor of Riverside. Family members, old friends, former acquaintances, including a person or two I never cared to see again, come up to me and ask, “Hey, you still preaching?”
I heard people ask my father the same question.
Maybe it’s the thing to do. Maybe it is customary to ask a person if they are still doing what they were doing the last time you saw them. It makes sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked other people stuff like:
- “Are you still unemployed?”
- “You still sick with that sickness thing?”
- “You still married?”
- “You still running off at the mouth about things you know nothing about?”
- “You still planning to party with Hitler for eternity?”
I just don’t get why people ask if I am still preaching. It’s like they think I’ll change my mind, or something.
In reality, it’s not that unreasonable to ask someone who once accepted the call to ministry if he is still preaching. I mean, it has been over 30 years since I made my calling public, but I’ve known more than one who walked away the first year.
If more people knew the statistics, few would would ever enter the ministry. Stop and think about it, would you enter a career with the highest rate of heart attacks? Consider these facts…
- 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
- 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
- 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
- 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
Yet, I’m still preaching! It may sound strange, but I can’t help it! And the older I get, the more committed I am to finishing the work to which I’ve been called – to finish well.
“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9 NLT
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV
Not long ago I went to his grave and placed my Bible on his tombstone. There, glistening in the sun, were the gilded words “Rev. Anthony C. Baker.” His legacy is still bearing fruit.
Now, in memory of a father who never stopped preaching, whether an actual pastor, or not, I want to be “standing in the gap” till God calls me home. I miss my dad, but if I could say anything to my him right now, it would be this:
Happy birthday, Dad. I’m still at it. I’m not giving up. You’d be proud.