Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 31, 1963
NUMBER 26, PAGE 3,13a

Some Sage Advice

H. Edward McCaskill

Several years ago, as I made my first attempt at local work, an elderly brother and preacher gave me some advice that after a few years of experience and test is, I believe, worth passing on. The brother who spoke these matters is brother D. J. Whitten, formerly associated with the non-divided class persuasion, and the disputant of the written, Whitten-Lanier debate. He said to me, "Brother McCaskill there are three things that any young preacher should constantly keep in mind and be always conscious of as he preaches the gospel: (1) Preach the truth, (2) Pay your debts, (3) Be discreet, gentlemanly and of proper behaviour in your dealing with women." Such advice is both sound and wise, it is clear-sighted discernment that is no doubt usable by young and older preachers alike. Over the past years I have come to appreciate those remarks even more than when I first heard them.


It is altogether true that practically every ill that befalls a gospel preacher will come through a failure to observe each of these rules. Not all troubles, to be sure, but a great percentage of them. A man is not worthy to fill any pulpit who will not preach the truth. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:2) While it is a proven and undeniable fact that hardships and persecutions will come from many sources, even from brethren who should hold up faithful hands, for preaching the truth; this is the honorable persecution that we should rejoice in. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matt. 5:11) But the man who rebels against truth, and does not have the courage to declare the "whole counsel of God" regardless of the cost is not fit to wear the name, "gospel preacher." Such spiritual cowards would do well to find a place and position to which they are better suited. Young men, old men, "....speak thou the things which become sound doctrine," (Titus 2:1) and if you must encounter problems in this connection let it be the result of the honor with which you esteem the unadulterated gospel of Christ — let it be because you have conviction and fortitude to declare the truth.


How many gospel preachers have been literally ruined and the influence of churches brought to disrepute because of a dishonest and delinquent preacher in the field of "debt consciousness"? If you have ever followed a preacher, even after many years, where such has taken place then you are more familiar with what I mean. Whether realized or not there are many expenses that encumber the preacher and his family that are not normally experienced by the average member. While brethren may ask the question, "What do they do with all their money?" these facts do exist. This does not in any way give liberty or grant license to a preacher to make obligations he cannot pay and to live above a standard he cannot maintain. Too many preachers, like too many members, are bitten by the bug of living above their incomes. It is not the "high cost of living" that affects them but the "cost of high living" that brings on their difficulties. I am aware also that a time may come when all of us can have charges that will unavoidably pile up and we find ourselves in financial straits. It may be due to emergencies in many matters, personal sickness, or hospital bills of our family and we just find ourselves without the means to pay. Then do the honorable thing. Go to the creditor and explain the situation to him. Usually he will appreciate your actions and do everything possible to work out an amicable solution with you. Your name, reputation, and the influence of the church will be respected and preserved. Too often preachers have resorted to paying their accounts with a check from a defunct bank account and this makes matters only worse and results in breaking the law. We should remember, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." (Prov. 22:1) Paul said, "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men." (Rom. 12:17) He wrote to Timothy, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." This great apostle showed the indispensability of being explicitly honest in all matters. The occasion of the contribution to the Jerusalem saints gave opportunity for another lesson in this regard. He told churches to appoint their own messengers, freeing himself of any question or unnecessary criticism in handling the contribution — "avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us. Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Cor. 8:20-21) Paul desired rather to be hungry, thirsty, naked, have no house to live in, labor, work with his own hands before he would betray his responsibility and honor as a faithful preacher of the word. Can we do or be any less?


How many fine gospel preachers have been completely destroyed and the influence of others brought to question because they were indiscreet in their associations with women other than their wives? Every preacher, in this regard, should be a modern day Joseph. 1 Cor, 7:2, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband," applies to the preacher just as it does all others. Perhaps some suggestions are in order just here: (1) Avoid the situation in your study, home, or elsewhere, where you must be thrown together with a sister and your wife or others be not present, (2) Avoid visits to women members or others when your wife cannot accompany you, (3) Do not offer transportation to a younger sister unless your wife or a "grandmother" sister can accompany you, (4) Make no remarks to a woman (or others) that could be construed as being anything but clean, clear, and with the best possible motives, and (5) Keep your hands to yourself and off the women folk.

Some may think this is somewhat narrow and the thoughts of an "old fogy" but ask the preacher who has been ruined by one moment of reckless folly and he will tell you otherwise. A gospel preacher cannot be "too careful" or overly cautious in these regards. He has a great charge allotted to him and his actions in these matters will determine to a great extent with what honor he views his position. His motives, actions, and words should be above reproach. Being conscious of these matters will give him a richer life and one that is more beneficial and rewarding in serving Christ. So, I merely pass on to others the advice of what has been my pleasure to have received many years ago.

— 800 N. Miranda, Las Cruces, New Mexico