“You Still Preaching?”
I don’t hear it too much anymore, but I used to hear it rather frequently. Family members, old friends, former acquaintances, and the average person I never wanted to see again would come up to me and ask, “Hey, you still preaching?”
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 thought of asking:
- “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?”
- Are you still as stupid as you used to be?
I just don’t get why people ask if I am still preaching. It’s like they think I’ll change my mind or walk away from the ministry, or something.
In reality, it’s not that unreasonable to ask someone who once accepted the call to ministry if he is still preaching. Even though it sorta feels like an insult, I shouldn’t be surprised by other people’s shock. I mean, it has been 34 years since I made my calling public. I’ve known more than one who has walked away the first year.
If more people knew the statistics, few would ever enter the ministry. Stop and think about it, would you enter a career with the highest rate of heart attacks? Would you take out student loans for a degree that demands you work multiple jobs? Consider these sad 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 surprise people who haven’t seen me in a while, but I’m still doing the Lord’s work and still following the call I first heard when I was 16. It may sound strange, but I can’t help it.
“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
June 11 was the anniversary of my father’s death. He died the week before Father’s day (just like my wife’s father did last week). 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.”
“Daddy,” I said, “I’m still at it.”