What Every Pastor Needs

From "The Necessity of Ministerial Progress" in Charles Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students Vol 3:

Knowledge of the Word

"Many preachers are not theologians, and hence the mistakes which they make. It cannot do any hurt to the most lively evangelist to be also a sound theologian, and it may often be the means of saving him from gross blunders, Nowadays we hear men tear a single sentence of Scripture from its connection, and cry “Eureka! Eureka!” as if they had found a new truth; and yet they have not discovered a diamond, but a piece of broken glass."

Knowledge of the World

"We must not confine ourselves to one topic of study, or we shall not exercise our whole mental manhood. God made the world for man, and he made man with a mind intended to occupy and use all the world; he is the tenant, and nature is for a while his house; why should he shut himself out of any of its rooms? Why refuse to taste any of the cleansed meats the great Father has put upon the table?"


"Want of education will hinder usefulness more than it once did; for, when the speaker wishes his audience to remember the gospel, they on the other and will remember his ungrammatical expressions, and will repeat them as themes for jest, when we could have wished they had rehearsed the divine doctrines to one another in solemn earnest."

Critical Thinking Skills

"We must also learn to discriminate, and at this particular time that point needs insisting on. Many run after novelties, charmed with every invention: learn to judge between truth and its counterfeits, and you will not be led astray. Others adhere like limpets to old teachings, and yet these may only be ancient errors: prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. The use of the sieve, and the winnowing fan, is much to be commended."

Awareness of Our Limitations

"I heard one say the other day that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and knows when to close."


"Let us be forcible by reason of the excellence of our matter, anti the energy of spirit which we throw into the delivery of it. In a word, let our speaking be natural and living. I hope we have foresworn the tricks of professional orators, the strain for effect, the studied climax, the pre-arranged pause, the theatric strut."

Sensitivity to Our Audience

"The preacher who should address an educated congregation in the language which he would use in speaking to a company of costermongers would prove himself a fool: and on the other hand, he who goes down amongst miners and colliers with technical theological terms and drawing-room phrases acts like an idiot. The confusion of tongues at Babel was more thorough than we imagine. It did not merely give different languages to great nations, but it made the speech of each class to vary from that; of others."


"To glory even in the work of God the Holy Spirit in yourself is to tread dangerously near to self-adulation. “Let another praise thee, and not thine own lips,” and be very glad when that other has sense enough to hold his tongue."

Holy Cheerfulness

"A great distinction exists between holy cheerfulness, which is a virtue, and that general levity, which is a vice. There is a levity which has not enough heart to laugh, but trifles with everything; it is flippant, hollow, unreal. A hearty laugh is no more levity than a hearty cry. I speak of that religious veneering - which is pretentious, but thin, superficial, and insincere about the weightiest matters."


"I am astonished at the number of Christians who are afraid to speak the truth to their brethren. I thank God I can say this, there is no member of my church, no officer of the church, and no man in the world to whom I am afraid to say before his face what I would say behind his back. Under God I owe my position in my own church to the absence of all policy, and the habit; of saying what I mean."

Intimacy With Christ

"Know Jesus. Sit at his feet. Consider his nature, his work, his sufferings, his glory. Rejoice in his presence: commune with him from day to day. To know Christ is to understand the most excellent of sciences. You cannot fail to be wise if you commune with wisdom; you cannot miss of strength if you have fellowship with the mighty Son of God."


"I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them. ... Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While Societies and Unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you:, be men of action all of you."