- Everything below applies to those who do the work of teaching and preaching the Bible full-time, part-time or only occasionally.
A major problem facing Bible teachers and preachers
A major problem facing all Bible teachers and preachers is the tendency to lose focus of know the Lord and speaking His words. In order to do the work effectively a Bible teacher and preacher needs to have one single focus for their lives. This focus is knowing God and speaking the truth of His word the gospel.
Teachers and preachers will admit that there are times when they are focused on knowing Jesus and speaking his words, and then there are times when this focus is lost. There is a oscillation that occurs, much like the rising and descending of the tides.
How then do teachers and preachers move towards the space of being focused on knowing our Creator and communicating His words for longer periods of time?
This is where Ecclesiastes is a powerful friend.
The power of the Book of Ecclesiastes for every teacher and preacher.
The writer of Ecclesiastes starts off the Book with the phrase, “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). How true is this statement!
He wrote this towards then end of his life. He had tried to fill his life with everything this earth had to offer him from beer and sex to education and land, travel and influence. However what he found was that for various reasons life (without God at the center) was completely meaningless.
While commenting on the book from which this quote comes, Hill and Walton say, “…there is nothing under the sun that is capable of giving meaning to life. Even if some level of fulfillment or self-satisfaction were achieved, death is waiting at the end.” (2009:460). They continue to say that
This is a shocking reality.
Think about this idea for a few minutes – do some meditation. What the author of this quote found to be true so do we. We work hard during school to win that sports trophy we want, only to be forgotten a week later or be beaten by someone better than us a year later. We enjoy all sorts of pleasures that only last a few hours and then vanish, leaving us dry and empty. We join that social movement that all but disappears in fifty years’ time. We work hard, building up a company that is destroyed in a few months by a civil war. The list goes on and on and on. Everything we work for is, at the end of the day, pointless.
If we scan the horizons of this world, and our own lives, we can see this saying at work. The truth of the statement that, “… Everything is meaningless…” is self-evident through observation. Think about it.
What then is the point of living? What then is the point of doing any work if it is all meaningless? Surely death is better then life? In many ways dying is better then being born because a dead person leaves behind the frustrations of a pointless life (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
But the story does not end there because
As I stand face to face with the vanity, the meaninglessness, the pointlessness to my life and the lives of all around me I am reminded of an unchanging truth, the truth of the existence of God. After being reminded that a Creator exists, I realize that living a “…God centered…” life as Hill and Walton say (2009:460) is the only way to live a point-filled life, one of meaning and great purpose. Doing all we do for the, “…glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) motivates us to rise in the morning and sleep well at night.
What does this have to do with teaching and preaching? How is this message powerful for someone who wants to, or is teaching and preaching the gospel message? Everything. If a teacher and preacher is able to see the shocking reality of how meaningless life really is (without God), this idea will drive them towards God – towards knowing the Lord AND speaking His words. The problem stated above will slowly dissolve.
If you don’t understand what I am saying then do this: Go and spend six months working through the Book of Ecclesiastes. Read it, mediate it, memorize it – read commentaries and let the message of this book change you.
In the end you will, for sure, be spending more time knowing the King and declaring His truth with power.
1.) All Bible references are from the NIV translation.
2.) Hill and Walton. (2009). Survey of the Old Testament. USA: Zondervan.