Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1951

Advice To Young Preachers

J. D. Tant (Gospel Advocate, 1897)

Having examined the line of march in my five former articles, my actual experience up to the present time, showing the many obstacles a man must surmount to do the work of an evangelist, I now come to call attention to some mistakes young preachers often make, some of which have been mine. I hope all will take warning from the things I shall say. As a word of consolation, I will say: No young preacher's conduct will be above criticism by the mixed multitude with whom you associate. Paul says, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (II Tim. 2:12)

Some will think you are stuck up; others will think you haven't pride enough; some will say you are too awkward in the pulpit; others will say you give more attention to how you preach than to what you say; some will say you are too hard on the sects; others will say you are not plain enough; some will say you are too familiar with the women; others will say you are too distant; some will say you are flirting with the girls; while some will say you are crazy to get married.

Mistake Number One

These are only a few of the items that will be brought against you in almost every meeting you hold. Then mistake number one will be when you write a letter to anybody denying any charge or asking about anything you may have heard that has been said of you.

It makes no difference what you may hear that people say about you, for the Lord's sake, make no reply. If what they say be true, try humbly to correct the wrong in your own life. If what is said be untrue, nine-tenths of those who tell the falsehood will tell twenty more to sustain what they have said. Then never—no, never— think of making any reply to what some evil-hearted man or woman may say about your conduct. The less attention you give to what may be said about you, the less it will harm you; and the more it will harm those who make the talk.

Along this line I have made some of the most egregious mistakes of my life.

While I would look back over by-gone years and draw the curtain of forgiveness and forgetfulness, yet I can call to memory some times when I acted indiscreetly by writing to some one who had spoken unkindly of me. I would stir them up to be still more bitter enemies, and cause them to use all their extra powers against me to injure me. They have even written to places where my work would be to prejudice the brethren against me.

All this might have been prevented had I paid no attention to them, gone on preaching as I had been doing, and treated them kindly. Yet, following the other course, I have made them enemies for life; and while I can freely forgive all wrongs done, still I think no circumstance can cause me to ever have any confidence in them. I suppose they look at me from the same point of view.

Then remember, dear young brother, your conduct is watched far closer than what people may say, and all things said about you will soon be forgotten, and your life of earnest work, in the minds of good men and women, will prove the accusation a lie, if you don't keep it stirred up by writing and denying the first letter on hearsay, or what "they" may say; then the second letter you will never have to write.

Mistake Number Two

Young preachers often express themselves on any trouble before hearing both sides. Then learn not to draw conclusions till you hear the whole matter.

Often, when you go to places, you will be told of some great crime that old Brother A or Sister B is guilty of. You will be told of some great wrong that has been done to your informant, and you will be asked to give your advice. Treat their statement with courtesy, but refuse to express yourself till you hear the other side; for frequently said parties are only telling you so much to get you to commit yourself that they may use it in their own favor to the downfall of the other parties. In all local troubles, have no pets; examine closely both sides before you speak, and then act as a man of God. Rule righteously, regardless of the influence that may be on one side and the prejudice that may be on the other.

Mistake Number Three

Some try to preach so they will not hurt anybody's feelings by crossing their religious faith. I often see reports of meetings in papers, where the reporter is careful to say, "Brother A is a grand preacher, and all the sects love him, and love to hear him preach."

I thank God that in all my meetings reported, no one has ever reported such a meeting. Neither do I believe any man beneath the sun can preach the gospel in all its plainness and purity and have such a report of his meeting. Christ never had such a report, nor Paul, nor any of those other early Christian writers and preachers who preached the gospel as God ordained it to be preached. If you go out to try to please men, you will not please God; if you preach in such a manner that all the sects love to hear you, then there is something wrong, either with the sects or with your preaching. In kindness, earnestness, and love, preach the word, and don't neglect to preach it straight. It is much better to preach it so it will save men than to preach it so it will please the sects. Let God be your teacher, his word your guide. Seek to please him, whether it pleases men or not.

This brings us to the fourth mistake, which will be examined in our next letter.