Good Advice To All Preachers
A short time ago Brother W. W. Otey committed to me all his remaining manuscripts, papers, and correspondence. Within the past few weeks, as I have worked my way through mountains of letters, many gems have been found. Such a great amount of letters were there that good judgment said all of them cannot be kept. But many of them have been. Brother Otey gave me his permission in writing to use these letters and materials as I saw fit.
Throughout the years, Brother Otey has carried on correspondence with hundreds of young preachers. Many of the preaching brethren cherish a letter of encouragement from him. Others of us have received well deserved criticisms. Below is a letter written by Brother Otey to some younger preacher giving him some advice obviously much needed. I have no idea who "Harvey" is, and have no interest in knowing. But I do believe that the sentiments expressed in this letter are such that most preachers can receive with profit. Read the following letter, and if the shoe fits, wear it.
Belle Plaine, Kansas May 26, 1945
Dear Harvey, This is not an easy letter to write. Only my interest in you and all other young gospel preachers irresistibly moves me to write. No one, perhaps, would rather always extend favorable compliment, instead in rare circumstances, criticisms than the writer. I was closely acquainted with you when you first began to preach, and have observed your work, and listened to comments ever since. I have and do sincerely wish that you may be a great strength in spreading the gospel, and in instilling the spirit of Christ in hearers.
The gospel is the purest, most sublime, dignified, and Godlike message ever committed to man. And without doubt, our words, motive, spirit, and manner should be on the same high and holy plane, in so far as we are capable of translating these into our presentation of the gospel.
The preacher of the gospel should present it without apology, yet without bluster and braggadocio; emphatic but not arrogant; logical and persuasive, but not in the manner and spirit of a dictator threatening. In all the addresses recorded in the Bible by inspired preachers, there is not found the least hint of a stale joke; sarcastic ridicule — not a single smart-alec wise crack to be found.
Christ as pictured in the story of his life should be first model. Next the inspired apostles. Who can think of Peter on Pentecost in manner, spirit, and deportment, except as sincere, with great earnestness, a dignified man? And the same holds good for every preacher mentioned who preached Christ.
The pulpit is the platform from which to point souls to Christ, and lead men to heaven. It should be as far removed from the stage and vaudeville comedian as redeemed, saved preachers can possibly elevate it. Denominations who preach much error may and do turn the pulpit into a vaudeville stage. But those who preach Christ, a crowned king, reigning from his throne in heaven, are supposed to manifest a spirit and deportment that will honor both king and the message. It would be out of harmony to put a masterpiece of the painter's art in a frame smeared and daubed. Christ and the gospel are a holy, heavenly picture, the last and most glorious gift of God to redeem a lost race. What then, should be our spirit, manner, method, motive, when presenting it to lead the lost to Christ?
In faith, hope and love,