In my ministry experience, I have observed that church leaders come with usually one of the three areas of gifting as major (broad generalisation, I know). Their dominant gift is either preaching, pastoring or leadership. I was always fascinateby the relationship between them. How are you meant to relate to the other two if you are gifted in one of those areas? Do you just write them off? Do you pray and ask God to ‘complete’ the package? Do you seek to learn as much as you can?
In a recent interview in the May 8, 2010, issue of World, Tim Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City) explains how his pastoral service in a small Virginia town helped shape his preaching: “In a small town your pastoring sets up your preaching. In a big town your preaching sets up your pastoring.
“In a big town, because they like the way you preach, they will then trust you to come and share their troubles with you. In a small town, they can tell the difference between loud and soft preaching but that is about it. If they see you being wise, kind and loving, they will trust you to come and listen to your sermons. You had to spend time with them in the nursing home, in the prison, at the funeral home.
“If you just go to towns such as New York and spend all your time ministering, you never learn how to pastor. You just learn how to do public communication. Ultimately, your preaching will be worse if you do not know how to pastor because you have not gotten involved in the hurts of people’s lives. I learned a lot from Hopewell; if I had not gone there, I would not know a lot of that. It makes me a much better preacher today, way better than if I had never been there.”