If you are a preacher then you know that you are never really ‘ready’ to preach. Preachers could always use more time in prayer, further meditation upon the text and to reconsider appropriate application. However, the time eventually comes when we must take that walk from our seat in the pew to stand behind the sacred desk to proclaim God’s word. It is at this point that we must be as ready to do what God has called us to do.
Why Are Some Guys So “On”?
This brings me to my question: Why do some guys walk to the pulpit and from first word to last seems to be clicking, dripping with passion, demonstrable brokenness, and a visible burden for their people to ‘get it’? While others are able to deliver a biblically faithful message but seem to lack that extra ‘something’ that makes a good sermon different?
I think it comes down to what one is doing in the pulpit. There is a difference between being a lecturer and a preacher. A lecturer may get all of the points correct, be elegant, engage you with humor, and even give you something to think about as you leave. The preacher, on the other hand, has been powerfully affected by the truth that he is proclaiming. He himself has spent a considerable time canvassing his own heart for agreement with the text’s proposition. Where there is a deviation from God’s will this preacher has smashed the divine hammer upon the his heart. He has been wrecked and rebuilt by the text. And it shows.
Furthermore, the preacher is one who has worn out a path to the throne of grace petitioning for the hearts of his people to ‘get it’. The preacher is convinced of the urgency and power of the message; he really believes that what he is about to say is exactly what God wants these people to hear, therefore, it is the most important thing in the world for them to attend to at that very moment.
To put it simply: this type of preacher is the one who has personally bought the importance of the text, prayerfully applied it to himself and then, convinced of its importance, wants to deliver it to the congregation. He has been wrecked and rebuilt by the text and now is compelled to help others do the same.
Being Wrecked and Rebuilt by the Text
In my own preparation I think of this whole process through the image of sweat. We are all familiar with sweat, it is a fact of life. In my preparation I want to apply the passage deep into my soul, prayerfully dispatching it to the far ends of my heart. Once the text is ‘in me’ and I have seen the importance of it for myself and for the glory of God, then I am closer to being ready to preach.
When I finally do preach what comes out? Eloquent quotes? A running commentary on the text? Funny jokes? Not if it’s truly in me. If so, then I’m sweating out the proposition of the text, the power and greatness of God in it, personal brokenness for my own sin and those of the people, and a genuine, bible-dripping zeal for us all to get it and live it.
My encouragement to preachers is to not preach until you are ready to sweat out the text. Anyone can put in the requisite hours in the chair, do the research, craft a sermon and deliver the message. However, it takes a man called by God to wrestle with God in the text and who will not refuse to let go of the text until God promises to bless him and his people. If you are a preacher, be this guy. Spend your week marinating in the text and then on Sunday morning sweat out the glory, greatness and obedience provoking beauty of God in the passage.