You Look Like a Preacher!
1 Timothy 6:8 “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
2 Timothy 4:13 “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”
Exodus 28:4 “And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”
Exodus 35:19 “The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.”
Exodus 39:41 “The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons’ garments, to minister in the priest’s office.”
Recently, a kind older Christian was complimenting our son’s outfit at church. Lincoln was wearing a dress shirt, tie, vest, and matching pants and shoes. His hair was combed, and he had his little New Testament in his hand. This seasoned believer looked at our little boy and said, “Lincoln, you look like a preacher today!”
A big battle that is fought in the hearts of the people you will preach to is their choice of clothing. It is a constant struggle to keep people spiritually in tune with God to the point that it shows up in their wardrobe. Without question, the Bible calls Christians to be distinct and distinguishable from the world. That covers our attitude, our actions, and our attire.
As a preacher, it is important that we not only set the standard for our people, but that we are walking with God to the point that our flesh is not in the driver’s seat when it comes to what we put on our body. We are a billboard for the God we serve. The Bible calls us ambassadors. An ambassador goes the extra mile to make sure he represents his nation well. Our God is worthy of a well-dressed, well-presented ambassador.
In the verse we read from 1 Timothy, Paul is addressing an attitude that should accentuate every believer. We should be content with the Lord’s provision. He explains to Timothy that if a man has food for his belly and clothes for his back, he should be content.
It is important for Christians to be content, but for the purpose of our study, I want to focus on the word “raiment” from this phrase. For the man of God, it’s not just being content with the clothes you possess; but when we think of raiment in respect to a Preacher, it is picking out and putting on the right kind of clothes that is paramount. Like the priests of the Old Testament, the preacher of today should be distinguished in his appearance.
Exodus 28:2 “And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.”
I’ll never forget during my time in college when I enrolled in a course covering the topic of classroom management for future teachers. The professor made a statement that has stuck in my heart from then until now. He stated, “Apparel can either exude authority, or it will exclude authority. It will either generate respect, or it will cause you to give up respect.” How true that statement is!
I cannot count the number of times I have been to revival meetings, conferences, or fellowship meetings and been introduced to young preachers who were dressed in a manner that was more suited for a youth group member than a pastor. Their authority was sacrificed on the altar of dressing down for the occasion. It’s hard enough for a young preacher to gain his audience’s confidence without their having to hop over the hurdle of the young preacher’s wardrobe choice.
When an athlete takes the field, he adorns a uniform. When a lawyer goes to court, he dresses accordingly. When a surgeon goes to perform an operation, he puts on the appropriate attire! No one ever asks a football player, “What’s with the helmet?” No one ever petitions a surgeon, “What’s with the scrubs?” and so it should be with the man of God. No one should have to guess who the preacher for the service is when stepping into the building!
If you are to err, lean to the side of overdressing and never underdressing. I am not advocating that the young preacher should go out and purchase clothes that he can’t afford. You don’t have to buy the best to look your best. Just present yourself in a way that does justice to your calling. Nothing about the work of the Lord should ever be “coach,” but rather it ought to always be “first class,” especially when it comes to the appearance of the man of God.
A few years ago I held a conference in a southern state. Before the service one evening, I was in a Sunday school classroom next door to the men’s prayer room. As I prepared to preach that night, I overheard a man talking to the pastor about the suit I had worn the previous service. He was commenting on how sharp it was. He then made a comment that made this truth of sharp attire come to life. He said, “You know Preacher, I’ve not been dressing right for church. I’m coming in jeans and T-shirts. I can do better. My wife and I are going shopping this weekend, and I’m going to get some new suits and ties. I want to step up my game for God.”
I smiled from ear to ear and wanted to shout the walls down! I did not mention proper dress in my message. I hadn’t hinted at “church clothes” in my introductory comments, and I hadn’t pulled that man aside and privately rebuked him for coming to church casually dressed; rather, by just dressing right and attempting to set the bar high in my own life, the Holy Spirit convicted and challenged that man to raise the bar in his life as well. The preacher ought to be the leader and not the follower, especially in regard to his wardrobe.
It’s a shame that a man who is called to preach would protest looking like a preacher. That same guy who would rebel against his suit and tie would happily wear his team’s jersey or his secular job’s uniform or his camo when it was deer season.
It’s not the tie that is the problem; it’s a rebellious heart and a skewed view and understanding of God! By the way, if the hardest thing you ever have to suffer through for Jesus is looking like a preacher… you’re going to be just fine.
I wonder, could it be said of you, “You look like a preacher today”? Let me leave you with a few things to consider when we talk about the preacher and his wardrobe:
1. YOU’RE CALLED TO A HIGH AND HOLY OFFICE
It’s been said, “If God has called you to preach, then do not stoop to be a king.”
2. YOU’RE AN EXAMPLE TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW YOU
Lee Roberson often said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” As the pastor, you are the pacesetter for your people.
3. EVEN THE WORLD SETS THE PRECEDENT THAT IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN IMPORTANT POSITIONS DRESS PROPERLY
If the President can look the part, so can the man of God. God is worthy of our best. Remember, your attire will either exude authority or exclude authority.
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Since 2006, Pastor Cooper has served as an evangelist and as a pastor, traveling across the nation holding revival meetings and preaching in Bible conferences. Pastor Cooper moved to join our staff in 2019 and is building the Tabernacle Bible Class. He and his wife, Desarae, are an incredible blessing to both the college and church families. Pastor and Mrs. Cooper have one son, Lincoln.