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A Shot of Encouragement

The Man of God

I first heard John MacArthur share this in some version of his message on The Man of God (here’s one). Phil Johnson posted more of the context, which was originally written by Floyd Doud Shafer for Christianity Today in 1961. Really great for a pastor/preacher.


Fling him into his office, tear the office sign from the door and nail up a sign, “Study.” Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the lives of a superficial flock and a holy God. Force him to be the one man in the community who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all night long, and let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing.

Shut his mouth forever spouting remarks. Stop his tongue forever tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence, and bend his knees in the lonesome valley of suffering. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry over his life before God. Make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone, Amen. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets.

Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible, and tie him to the pulpit and make him preach the Word of the Living God. Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, game scores and politics. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day. Sir, we would see Jesus. And when, at last, he does enter the pulpit, ask him if he has a Word from God. If he doesn’t, then dismiss him.

Tell him you can read the morning paper. You can digest the television commentaries. You can think through the day’s superficial problems. You can manage the community’s weary fund drives. You can bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, better than he can. Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up worn and forlorn and say, “Thus says the Lord.”

Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom and give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word. Sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left, God’s Word. Let him be totally ignorant of the down-street gossip, but give him a chapter, and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward until all he says rings with the truth of eternity.

And when he’s burned out by the flaming Word, when he’s consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, when he’s privileged to translate that truth of God to man and finally transferred from earth to Heaven, then bear him away gently, and blow a muted trumpet, and lay him down softly and place a two-edged sword on his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant, for he was a brave soldier of the Word. And ere he died, he had become a man of God.

Floyd Doud Shafer, “And Preach As You Go!