Heart Talks

By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer

Chapter 18


By H. C. Morrison


     Pastors frequently write us inquiring for safe evangelists to assist them in revival meetings. They usually specify something about the kind of man that will be suitable to their place. It is quite reasonable that a pastor who truly loves his flock should be deeply interested to secure for his assistance an evangelist of high order. They want men of good intelligence with a fair degree of education, and a genuine knowledge of the teachings of the Word of God. They want men who will make a respectable appearance in the pulpit -- not overdressed, not dudish, not slouchy. They want men perfectly discreet, who will be wise in all of their conduct toward the sisterhood, who know how to strike straight, strong, manly blows at sin -- masculine men who will draw and please men; courageous, but not outrageous; fearless, but not reckless; kind-hearted men, gentlemanly, affable, but not gushy and jolly; soldiers on duty, girded for battle. Serious, burdened men. Men of prayer, spiritually-minded, devout and true.

     They want men who will bring things to pass. "They must not be monotonous; they must not preach too long, or too loud, or too low, or too fast, or too slow. Men who will not be a long time getting into the service, and who will not let the service drag -- who know how to close the service quickly and impressively. Who will send the people away with a good taste in their mouths. Men who are on to their jobs, who know how to present the truth of the Bible, who love lost souls and can pray for their fellow-beings. Men who can attract the people, teach the people, hold the people, awaken and lead the people to Jesus.

     The demand for such men is remarkable. They are needed badly; they are called for from every quarter. There are thousands of souls waiting for such men to come and win them away from their sins. Such men are not so plentiful as you might think. The pastors want men who will keep in good humor, who won't get mad; who will bear and forbear and endure and come up shining and moving forward fearlessly, but with tender love. We should like to get in touch with about thirty thousand such men. The old world needs them, and will give them work day and night.

     These men ought not to be so bound up with ecclesiastical harness that it will hinder a free circulation of the most fraternal Christian spirit and brotherly love toward all the household of faith. They ought not to so bind themselves with plans and promises made far ahead, that they cannot take advantage of doors providentially opened and get the great help that 'comes from the overlapping of the influence of a great revival held in one community upon a neighboring community. They should guard against spending too much time and money on long trips across the continent, but ought with thoughtful care to make their engagements so as to economize as much as possible both their time and their finances. They ought to be careful about leaving a meeting just as the people are becoming interested and conviction is falling upon the unsaved, but ought to be prepared to postpone the next meeting and remain a few days longer in their field of labor and gather the bountiful and ripening harvest of souls made possible by the earnest labors they have put into the work.

     It is certainly poor policy to preach ten days, two weeks, go even longer, and then leave a church just as the spirit of genuine revival is beginning to manifest itself. The evangelist ought to be wonderfully saved from the love of money. Of course, he has his family to support and his obligations to meet like other men, but he must be kept very free from any desire for riches, or to live in splendor or luxury. Fortunate the evangelist who is able to commit his financial matters to his God and press the battle without worry in his own mind or disgusting the people to whom he preaches on the subject of finance.

     The evangelist will need to watch and pray against the spirit of mere professionalism, of working out certain plans that by and by will lose their spirit and power. He must keep his heart warm with holy devotion to his Master and earnest solicitude for the salvation of souls. If the evangelist is called of God into this special field of labor, divinely anointed for his task, and devotes himself unswervingly to the performance of it, he may be worn with arduous labor, he may shatter his nerves and shorten his days, but he will doubtless come home to his Master with a great armful of sheaves.

     Constant evangelism will no doubt produce nervousness and nervousness makes excitement easy, and under strain and stress of preaching designed to draw the multitudes, arrest attention, awaken the conscience and compel men to action, the nervous evangelist under the excitement of heavy pressure and high tide, will need to guard himself with great care against unwise and severe speech, hurtful to himself, his brethren and the cause be loves.

     Above all, our evangelists ought not to say unkind and bitter things about each other, in the pulpit, at the table, in the social circle, or elsewhere. No earnest evangelist can campaign the country, stir the people, condemn sin and win souls without drawing criticism and censure upon himself. These criticisms are likely to be poured into the ears of the brother evangelist who comes along next. It is easy for the brother evangelist to knit his eyebrows, widen his eyes with surprise and say, "Did he say that?" "Is it possible?" "Well, that was outrageous; I would not have thought it. No such man is fit for the pulpit." It is well to remain silent, dismiss the matter altogether or wait to render a decision until one hears the other side.

     But enough; every reasonable person will understand that any evangelist who makes it the rule to publicly and constantly criticize and ridicule his brother evangelist, is destroying himself, and bringing upon himself the disapproval and censure of all thoughtful people who hear him.