Here is a terrible confession:
This Sunday was my first Sunday in 34 weeks that I did not preach at the Avenue or at a different church! I know, I am awful & I am not taking enough breaks, and I also thankful for Godly elders who said ‘No more.” Every 6 weeks on from here on out I need to take one week off. It was so refreshing Sunday to sit at the Avenue & listen to Matt Ness preach & after the evening service I spent some time reflecting on things I am learning about myself through preaching!
1) – I am learning to depend on the Spirits movement & not my preparation
I was taught how to preach without the Spirit, I was taught how to work a text, how to contextualize the text & how to deliver a message that engages an audience. I was taught how to manuscript, how to build illustrations & how to practice, memorize & deliver. I was never taught that preparation is a poor substitute for Gods Spirit showing up. I am constantly asking myself, “today as I preach am I leaning into my preparation & my giftedness or am asking God to speak & move through me?”
2) – I am really hard on myself & that means I missed the point
No critic is ever tougher on me than me! I replay the message in my head & always come up with a better more concise, way to say it. I’m like a Jr high boy talking to a girl for the first time, I stammer & stutter but when I look back I could have said it so clearly! Being tough on me just means I missed the point.
So these are the questions I ask myself:
1) – Was I prepared
2) – Did I preach what God asked me to preach
3) – Was it about my glory or His
If I was prepared and did all the hard work I needed to do to get ready, if I approached the message prayerfully and did everything I could to be faithful and if I was about making His name great and not mine then I am missing the point if I am beating myself up. I am called to deliver His message in His way not to entertain or wait for pats on the back.
3) – I am exhausted after I preach
I know some of you work 10 hours a day and you build things & carry pianos up 12 flights of stairs but the reality is preaching wears me out. I don’t feel guilty about it, I am exhausted because I carry the weight of the task God has given to me. I take very seriously the call on my life to deliver His words & to teach His people His ways. I take Monday mornings off, I sleep in & spend time with my wife and with God. Make sure you take breaks, 34 weeks in a row is a bad idea.
4) – I am a far better preacher when I involve others in my preparation
Here is what a normal preaching week looks like for me. Monday afternoons I pray over and review the text for the coming Sunday, I take lots of notes & gather some info about the text. Tuesdays I write a rough draft & send it out to our elders as well as some other friends. In this rough draft I will make notes about certain sections, and ask for specific help, this section could be more clear, this section is too long, or too boring etc. Wednesday, I have appointments all day, and I don’t look at the sermon I wait for my fellow sermon writers to get back to me. Thursday, I take all the feedback I received, usually several pages from several folks, and I read through it & add pieces to the rough draft! Friday & Saturday I look over the manuscript & begin learning it, I will talk through the message our loud at least once on Saturday & once on Sunday morning. I pray throughout the entire process that God will give me His words for His people!
5) – The whole process teaches me to depend on God
I am not a great preacher, but I work really hard to depend on God to teach me, guide me, speak to me & direct me as I prepare and as I deliver the message. He is faithful, good and true and He always shows up, even if sometimes he does it at the last minute. The whole experience teaches me to pray, trust & depend on His strength and not my own! Help your people to know that your job in the pulpit is not to entertain or to draw a crowd but it is to be faithful to deliver the message God has given to you!