Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 1, 1951

Advice To Young Preachers — No. 2

J. D. Tant (Gospel Advocate, 1897)

Mistake Number Four

Many young preachers, in trying to put themselves forward as debaters challenge all they meet for debate before they are prepared to meet the doctrines of men. Even Paul exhorts Timothy to avoid this. Alexander, the coppersmith, claims he had greatly withstood even the words of an apostle. (II Tim. 4:14, 15)

It being true that there were men of ability who opposed the truth so much that an apostle could write to a young preacher to beware of certain ones, our young brethren should take heed and not too soon overestimate their ability, and want to meet some man in debate when they are not able to do so. It is not every man who is a good preacher who can debate; and while I am strictly in favor of debates, I visit many places where debates did no good. They were brought about by unfavorable surroundings, by one side bull-dozing, and old Adam on the other side, by a spirit of controversy rather than a seeking for the truth. Also I have been to places where one man was unable to meet his opponent, and, as a result, harm came to the church there.

Again, I would say that one of the most fatal mistakes a young preacher can make is to try to meet a man on all low, vulgar positions he may take. While ridicule and vulgarity may take with some people, it will never take with that class who build permanently the society of God. So, above all things in debate, keep yourself above the low and vulgar. It makes no difference if your opponent goes there, tell him you are a Christian, must give an account to God for your conduct, and cannot afford to stoop below what is written. This kind of debating may not suit some, but will win in the end, and also be more acceptable to him who called you to be a soldier.

Mistake Number Five

Do not fail to teach the brethren their duty concerning the support of the ministry. I am well aware that nine-tenths of our young preachers make fatal mistakes at this point. It is not necessary for you to say something about money in every sermon, but in all meetings have one or two good sermons on scripturally preaching the gospel. Let the brethren plainly understand that if God has called you to preach the gospel, he has also called them to support you in doing, and while condemnation may come to you in not preaching, equal condemnation will come to them in not supporting you while preaching.

Don't try to visit all mission points at your own expense, for such will soon close you out, and you will become discouraged in not being supported; whereas had you done your duty at the beginning in teaching the brethren, there would have been no necessity in your quitting.

Some ungodly man or woman may accuse you of preaching only for money. Don't regard the accusation. No true man or woman will ever fall out with you for teaching them their duty. Along this line, I have made some grave mistakes, which I am trying to correct as I grow older.

Error is killed out only by the practice of truth, and had our brethren always been as faithful in teaching the people on giving as they have in preaching baptism for the remission of sins, there would have been no occasion or place or time for the organization of the different societies that have infested the church.

So, dear young brother, from the beginning teach them that the fellowship is of as much importance as the prayers, the apostles' doctrine, and the breaking of bread.

Mistake Number Six

Jealousy toward other preachers is a not uncommon mistake. The first thing every young preacher should learn is that God never made any two men to occupy the same place in the church of Christ. After learning that, it will not be hard to understand that our brother is not in our way, but only as a member filling his place in the body to make all complete in one. I have found some preachers who did not like for another brother to come on their territory, and especially if some of the home brethren spoke kindly of the visiting preacher. I have also seen many preachers who could never speak a kind word of another preacher, showing they were jealous of the other man's influence. If perchance they heard some evil report of their preaching brother, they never lost an opportunity of telling and magnifying the same.

Dear young brother, your preaching brethren are not in your way, but only companions doing their part in the great conflict, as God has ordained. Then let them be your friends, and not your enemies. Speak well of them; be not jealous of them, even if they can preach better than you. Do the best you can, and leave the consequences with God, knowing that an angel can do no more.