C.F.W. Walther, talking to the seminary students during his thirteenth evening lecture on January 9, 1885:
My dear friends, first and foremost, I would wish that you all were real Christians, filled with burning passion for truth. That is the main tool you need, over time, to become powerful preachers—preachers whose spirit grabs hearers by an irresistible force, as the example of the apostles demonstrates. The people could not tell why, but the preaching of these simple men made a most powerful impression on them.
Far from suggesting that great gifts and thorough theological learning are not of tremendous value, I would rather claim the opposite to be true. For if you add great gifts and thorough learning to the living faith of a preacher, he will eventually become a mighty, efficient tool in the hands of God.
God does not relegate all our natural skills and whatever we might have gained by our personal enthusiasm to some corner when we enter the ministry. Rather, these skills are purified and pressed into His service. That is why greater things have taken place and great results have been achieved in the kingdom of God whenever great gifts and thorough learning have been coupled with living faith.
C.F.W. Walther, Law & Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, Trans. Christian C. Tiews (St. Louis: CPH, 2010) 126.