I’ve tilted toward envy and been astounded by those who preach well sans notes and for over 30 years, I, a manuscript man, have wished to go without notes. I suppose I’m by the old line of a report on a sermon: “First of all he read it, second he read it poorly, and third, it wasn’t worth reading in the first place.” I think it was Andy Stanley in Communicating for A Change who said: “The listener does not know what you left off or forgot to say.” Believe it or not those words have helped me in more than just the act of preaching. As one who strongly believes in the power of each individual and the right word and who beats myself up after every sermon for stuff I left out that thought is comforting. There’s more.
And the more has really helped me and I pray it aids you on this Monday. I suppose we’ve all known people struggling with a sin or who have said or done something or they had a family member who did and they felt like everyone in the congregation was judging them, talking about them. They were embarrassed. But we knew different. We knew that only a handful of folks knew about it, cared about it, and that even those wanted good and not to humiliate, but to love the person.
I want to remind you that that is true for you too. When you stood up yesterday most in the audience did not know about the conflict in your mind over an elder you are struggling with. They do not know you are praying your check from yesterday hits the bank before the check you put in the plate that morning. When you and up next Sunday to preach most in your audience will not know about the person who behind the scenes is trying to “get you fired.” They will not know about your challenges of confidence, your dealings with doubt, your striving with sin, your individual issues. I’m not suggesting that you are hiding, or that you play the role of hypocrite. I’m suggesting that you preach. You are human, and those issues can get in your mind and affect your communicating. Let your mind be at ease and be yourself. Let the fact that most, BY far, the largest group of listeners is “for the preacher.” They want good in your life, they love you, they are on your side, they respect what you do, and want to hear God’s Word from you. Don’t let some sideline matter get in your mind and cause you to want to quit on this Monday. Most of all, remember God is pro-positive-pure preachers and preaching.
Our prayer is that these words will serve as a reminder to those who preach, that it’s okay to be normal. We don’t have to be perfect and aren’t we glad since we can’t be!
A Preacher is a man who is a lot like other men.
He gets hurt when someone is unkind to him.
He gets angry when someone is mean or critical to his family.
He gets tired when he has worked too much.
He bleeds when he gets cut.
He sweats when he gets hot.
He can lose his temper when he isn’t thinking properly.
He has temptations that he struggles with daily.
He loves it when someone compliments him.
He wants to be loved by the people around him.
He wants those who are over him to recognize him when he does something good.
He probably doesn’t really want to be rich, but he would like to be comfortable and enjoy life.
He needs encouragement at times in his life.
He feels that he is doing the work that God wants him to do.
He is burdened by the wickedness of this world.
He is baffled by the inconsistencies in his life.
He wants to be better than he is.
He wants his wife to be fulfilled, happy, and healthy.
He wants his children to be successful, happy, and healthy.
He prays that his kids to grow up to be faithful and active in the Church.
He wants to be able to enjoy his grandchildren.
He hopes that someday he can slow down.
He doesn’t want to quit, maybe just change directions and not be as involved in the weekly weight of the work.
He fears failure and longs for success.
He has at times been weak in his faith.
He doesn’t want to be an island to himself, he enjoys being friends with other men, even when it’s a risk.
He laughs, he cries, he feels, and he prays.
I’m not sure how I can finish a Sunday exhausted when all I did was stand up and talk for a while.
Maybe it is because you did much more than that. Yes, to the uninitiated that may be what it appears happened but today you “held up the Lord’s beacon” to lost souls. You defended truth over error by seeking and then speaking truth. You went toe to toe with satan - defending the Kingdom of the Lord, invading the territory of the evil one, contending for the hearts of men and women. You entered into the minds of listeners to try to distract them from things of the present world and make them consider the weightier matters of the unseen, the eternal. You filled your own mind with the Word of God and buffeted your own desires to conform to that Word before speaking it to others. You made the effort to balance communication skills with filling your lesson with God’s Word. You listened to concerns of others, you offered counsel, you took prayer requests, your greeted all, you tried to connect with young and old and to make an impression on guests who you may only have one chance to connect with. You heard the serious (my child is struggling with x), the sublime (I want to talk with you about my soul) and the silly (the lights were left on last Tuesday night and you need to do something about it). You put your heart on the line. You made every attempt to love those who have worked against your efforts, to serve those who don’t appreciate your attempts to serve, to care deeply for those who could care less, and to encourage those whom feel everyone else has excluded. You tried to make an impact.
That may be why you’re tired. Take a few minutes, breath deeply, thank God for the opportunity to impact lives, and relax. You deserve it. We love you and thank God for you.
Recharge, relax, rest - cause Sunday is coming again in about 7 days and then you’ll stand up a talk a little while again! :)
When you preach the Truth in love you are doing a great work.
When you proclaim the whole counsel of God, you are doing a great work.
When you prepare yourself in study, you are doing a great work.
When you are involved in a personal Bible study with someone, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time answering a Bible question in an email, you are doing a great work.
When you counsel a couple with marriage trouble or a family in crisis, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time with a child or a young person showing them the love of Christ, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time attending a young person’s game or some other event, you are doing a great work.
When you visit and pray with someone in the hospital or in their home, you are doing a great work.
When you visit an elderly person who is shut-in, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time in a meeting with elders, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time encouraging others on your staff, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time with others dreaming, planning, and thinking about the future of the congregation you serve, you are doing a great work.
When you spend sending notes, emails, or texts to members to thank them for their service or just to encourage them, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time with your wife, away from the office and away from your study, you are doing a great work.
When you spend time helping your own children with homework, a school project, going to a game, or just talking about what is going on with their life, you are doing a great work.
When you take some time to rest, relax and enjoy the handiwork of God, you are doing a great work.
May God continue to bless you in the great work you are doing for Him.
You preach it, teach it, believe it, study it, memorize it, and you build your beliefs around it. Today you stood in front of people and expounded from and on it. You were textual, even if you were topical you were text driven with that topic. With it, you prove doctrine and justify opinions.
We have been, are, and will be people of the Book.
But all that study, digging, creative sermon structure, scraping for alliteration, in-depth word studies, cultural practices investigation should have more fruit than just a decent presentation. As you study God’s Word with as pure a heart as you can God’s Word is also working on you.
I was thinking tonight about how the text affects my life. I hope you can relate. If we allow it to, preaching will make us better people. That time in the Word should.
The time in God’s Word helps equip us to make it through our own dark days. As I spend time the Word each week it is growing my own faith deep so that I will attempt great things fro God. My time in the Bible helps my attitude when things don’t go my way. The time of exposure to the Spirit of Christ revealed in His Word affects my relationships with everyone I interact with.
Thank you for preaching His Word, and as you go through this week may you remember it is more than an academic text we are preparing sermons and classes from, but that the “Living Word” (Hebrews 4:12) can work on you as you work in it.
I pray it is a great week for you.
He had a chance to win a career Grand Slam today. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Rory McElroy’s day. He ended up tying for fifth in the Master’s Golf Championship. He started the day in second place and ended up tied for fifth.
Every preacher has dad days like that. I know, we can’t really compare what we go through every week with trying to win a golf tournament. But, you know what I mean.
We spend days in study, prayer, and preparation getting ready for Sunday. The study and hopefully the prayer is intense. It takes a lot of time and effort. Our goal every Sunday is to do our very best.
The problem is, not every Sunday is a grand slam. Some days in spite of the preparation, we don’t do as well as we’d like. Maybe we aren’t feeling well physically. Perhaps we had a family crisis. Maybe you had a difficult elder’s meeting.
Here’s what we should never forget. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He has always used imperfect men to deliver His perfect Word. In fact, He can take our flawed efforts and turn them into a Grand Slam moment.
The promise is that He will use us, even when we are not at our best. If we study, pray, prepare; then deliver His Word to best of our ability He will bless the service we offer.
We also know that there have been times we didn’t feel great about the sermon, and someone would later tell us how meaningful it was to their life.
Don’t feel too sorry for Rory. He won nearly $400,000.00 today. And guess what, if you did the best job you could do on Sunday, what you did was much more valuable than any amount of money. You changed lives, you changed eternity, and above all, you did the will of God.
Now, let’s all start getting ready for another major Sunday!
Our surveys would reveal that roughly 87% of you preached on the resurrection yesterday. The truth is probably closer to 100% of us preached the resurrection for in preaching the death to sin and burial in Christ, the resurrection in the natural progression. You spoke into people’s lives the hope that is found only in Christ proved by the resurrection. You affirmed the superiority of Christianity over every other religion because of the significant of our Leader’s tomb being empty. You proclaimed the power of Christ over the grave. You preached His life-giving grace. You emphasized His ability to aid your listeners in overcoming guilt, addictions, sin. You pointed them to new life, hope, meaning for life, significance in serving. All based on the belief in His resurrection.
It was glorious, life-changing even. There were hearts that were stirred and intentions determined to live a new life based on this belief. The crowd was up, guests were present, hope was alive.
And now Monday is dawning. When you’ll move a little wearily, you’ll take calls from sales-people, you’ll contact some of the guests from yesterday, you’ll hear a complaint or two, you’ll face the frustrations of ministry, you’ll feel the constant pressure that Sunday is only 6 days away, you’ll make a hospital visit or two, and confront your own personal demons.
I want to remind you that the same Jesus who rose for your listeners rose for you too, to give you life, peace, grace, freedom from guilt and sin, and hope. The resurrected Savior isn’t just for preaching, He’s for your life too. May God bless you this week as you thrive in light that He’s your savior too.
It was a Sunday night I’ll never forget. One of my elders walked up to me and said, “You know they are after your job, don’t you?” I knew that there was something going on that we disagreed about, but I didn’t know that a couple of the elders wanted me fired.
After praying a lot about it and talking to a couple of trusted advisors, I walked into an elder's meeting and offered my resignation. Even though a couple of the elders didn’t respond, the majority of the elders asked me to stay on with the Church. The next few months were difficult for me, but with the Lord’s help and the wisdom of good men, we were able to work our way through it. In the end, we were better for it as a congregation.
It may be that you are going through something similar right now. Maybe you had an experience like that on Sunday. I do not profess to know how, or to have the wisdom to make the right call in every situation.
However, my first encouragement to you is to do your best to do the right thing. Do what is best for your own spiritual life, your family, and the Church. A few other do’s and don’ts when you are struggling with a situation like this.
(1) Do spend much time in prayer.
(2) Do talk to a small group of trusted advisors who give you sound advice.
(3) Don’t be divisive. Even when we are right, we can be wrong by dividing the Body of Christ.
(4) Do continue to preach the Word. Don’t talk about specific issues from the pulpit regarding your situation. Just preach the Word.
(5) Do continue to love the brethren. All of them. Even the ones with whom you disagree.
(6) Don’t make rash decisions in the heat of the moment. In other words, “Don’t Quit on a Monday.”
May God bless you with whatever struggles you are dealing with right now. May He wrap His arms around you. May He give you peace, comfort, and sense of joy through Jesus Christ.
Saturday night at the funeral home a dear dear saint thanked me for our work with younger preachers. This person was so very kind and gracious and I accepted the sweetness with equal gratitude and with deep appreciation. BUT I wish I’d said a little more: “Do you think the only ones among us who get discouraged, frustrated, fall and falter are the newbies?”
It’s been a good Sunday. I have a cold. Spoke on Saturday at a Youth Rally, preached Sunday and also spoke at a funeral for a 49-year-old husband and dad, and I was, as always uplifted by worship and blessed by many gracious brothers and sisters.
This morning as I listened to the kind and complimentary comments of those who exited our building I had an odd experience. My mind did a rewind and I remembered how good brothers and sisters have been to me. As with any preacher, I’ve had my critics and those “gunning” for my job. It’s a rare time when there is not at least one person who would like to see you gone. Sometimes there are a handful and sometimes those who do so are vocal and/or powerful.
But think about your ministry. Be honest with yourself. Even if you are discouraged and serving in a difficult place. Most of the brothers and sisters are kind with their encouragements, gracious in their compliments, affectionate with their appreciation, and sincere in their sweetness. Yes, we probably all at times feel unappreciated but that’s typically in our heads and seeps into our souls. Yet, I imagine today, there were many more who were kind in their comments than critical. Don’t quit. While the voice of the critic clangs more clearly in your head, strive to hear every voice and know you are more appreciated than you realize.
We hope this is a great week for you.
Perhaps you preached this week about the need for greater faith, or maybe your sermon was meant to inspire hope, or was your message and effort to encourage your people to trust God more through the trials of life?
Have you ever preached one of these types of sermons, then you wondered if it was true? Can God really be trusted at all times? Are there problems that are too big for God? Are there some difficulties in our life that He can't handle? Do you ever doubt the God you proclaim?
If so, you are not alone. Some of God's greatest preachers struggled with doubt. In fact, doubt is something that every person, even Christians deal with at times in life. The real problem with doubt is, it can grip us and paralyze us.
If we allow doubt to seize us, it can cause us to lose our faith, it can cause us to lose the joy we have in Jesus, and it can cause us to turn our back on Him. Maybe you have doubts today about your ministry, your family, your finances, your health, your faith, your convictions, the Church, the Scriptures, or even your Lord?
If you are struggling with doubt in your life right now, don't try to bear it alone. You have preaching brothers who would understand and who would be more than willing to listen and help you.
Better still, we have the promise of the Savior. We can turn all of our worries, all of our cares over to Him. He invites you if you are carrying heavy burdens and doubts to come to Him, to allow Him to give you rest for your weary soul! What a tremendous blessing, what an incredible promise, what an amazing Savior!!!
We all have them. Some of us have carried them around most of our lives, others, it seems inherited them, and some of us picked them up along the way as the result of a hurt, or a study, or a debate that went too far. Some of us are blessed enough that are surrounded by good folks who model grace and improvement over time and we get them put where they belong - under control. For others it’s a struggle that seems to resurface over and over.
But we all have them.
For some of us it’s a hobby horse from which we can’t seem to dismount, for others it’s a lurking jealousy that torments the corners of our mind, not a few seem to end up chasing after newness and wind up doing regretted harm, for many it’s a lingering sin that keeps popping up and bringing us down.
But we all have them.
Ultimately all we can do is wrestle with them, confess them, struggle with them, trust God’s Grace and strive to grow and not be overcome by them. One more thing: how about if those of us in ministry realize that everyone else has them too, and not just the people in the pew, but your fellow guys who stand behind pulpits, and give them the grace we’d want from them and the support they deserve as a brother. I bet that’d make the whole brotherhood a better place to be.
You've studied your heart out all week. You preached the Word today with all of the passion you can find inside yourself.
During the course of the week you heard some terrible news about an illness, your child got in trouble at school, an unexpected repair on your house came due, and you don't have the money to pay the bill. Then to top it all off, you feel like you are catching this nasty flu that's been going around!
Today an elder jumped on you for something that happened at Church that had nothing to do with you. A member misunderstood something you said in a sermon and accused you of teaching false doctrine. Because of everything going on around you this week and today your mind wasn't clear which made you wonder if the sermon hit home, with anybody!
Every man who preaches long enough will go through some or all of these experiences. When we do, we have all kinds of emotions that flood our minds. One of which is, DOES ANYBODY CARE???
Do the elders care, do the members care, does my family care, does anybody care about what's been going on. Some would say, "quit bellyaching and act like a man!" May I say, instead, please don't forget that there is someone who cares deeply about you, even when it seems like no one else does.
Our Lord in Heaven cares. Some of you older guys will remember a great old hymn, "Does Jesus Care"? The verses speak of everything this article has talked about, and more.
The beautiful, heart-warming, uplifting refrain says:
"Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares."
My friend, please don't forget those words this week, regardless of what you are dealing with in your life. Please remember that you have a savior who cares deeply for you, even now, even still, and always!
Preaching is like a machine. Sunday’s come. They are like a production line. They are like a hammer in rhythm. They come with unrelenting regularity. Some days they feel like a machine gun. It doesn’t matter what your biorhythms, what your week was like, where you are emotionally, spiritually, if you are healthy as a horse, or dead tired and spent, Sunday is still going to show up.
What I’m going to share next does not happen every week, but probably a whole lot more than I would like to admit. How many Saturdays have I sat and thought, I’m not sure I can do this tomorrow, but then Sunday morning still shows up (because it does) and I have to/get to stand up and preach the Joyful, Good News of Jesus. And, it seems something happens, in the moment what I wondered if it would ever “fly,” connects. Of course not every week but more often than not. And, it seems. more often when I feel less confident than more, things work BETTER than I expected. I know I may be the only one.
And, I don’t know about you, but when the day is over - for me it often seems the reward and rest tracks in direct reverse proportion to my frustration going into that day. I know I could be wrong, but I sometimes wonder if that is not God’s grace realized to keep me moving forward.
Have you ever had days when you weren’t sure if you were connecting? Maybe you had just been through some crisis and it was difficult to focus on your preaching? That's the way I’ve felt all day, and because I know you, I’m certain you have had days like that as well.
Let me tell you what else I know about you. I know that with prayer and God’s help, you worked your way through it. I know that you did exactly what we are supposed to do. I know that even when you were in pain, that you preached through that pain.
I know that you are thoughtful, compassionate, Biblical, intelligent; that you love Jesus, His Word, His Church, and all people. I know that you are concerned about the future, that you challenge your people to move forward, and you help them want to be better for the Lord. I know that their lives are blessed beyond measure because of what you do.
And, I hope you know these things as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a blessing and for being God’s man. May He continue to work in and through you. May He continually bless you as you bless others. May He continually fill you with His love as you live, preach, and minister in ways that glorify Him. You are appreciated and loved by many. Don’t ever forget it. Don’t ever give up, don’t let the negative folk discourage you, don’t let those around you who think that God’s ways are not relevant keep you from doing and saying what you know is right. It is because of the fact that God will continue to use you and work through you that everything is going to be all right! We are praying that you will have a great week! We love you all.
Yes, satan understands eternity, at least I think he does. he understands it at least better than we do. While the evil one is not eternal (God is the alone in the category of truly eternal, without beginning or end), he’s certainly been around long enough to get some perspective on it.
his moment of glory came at the cross where he bruised the heel of God. his moment of truth came sometime around daybreak a few days later when he realized with a handful of disciples that has changed hundreds of millions of lives since; a heel-bruise is not a death blow. The Lord lives and conquered and conquers and the outcome of the evil one is already determined. he knows he has lost.
he knows he has lost so now he is giving his all to distract God’s People, to discourage God’s Servants, to dissuade God’s purposes, to defeat God’s Men who proclaim Freedom. satan will do all he can to give you anything and any reason to help you stop speaking, quit loving, sink your passion. he wants you to feed self so he can torment you for eternity.
I do not know what kind of Sunday you had but I do know as a servant of God satan would like nothing more than to distract and discourage you. For if he can he gets you, your ministry and possibly many you might have or will influence. You are a valued prize. Remember, God loves you - the evil one just wants to use you. he hates your soul. If its a tough time I pray for better days. But good days or difficult, your service to God matters. You matter. What you do matters.
Nobody has to tell you what it means. God chose through the foolishness of the thing preached to save mankind. It’s not the act of preaching itself, but it’s the content of the message preached.
However, it is also God’s choice to use human vessels to make sure the Good News is spread around the world. This is where those of us who preach fit into the plan. You might say, when we decide to preach the Word, we are fulfilling God’s choice.
How exciting is that? It is exciting that what we do every week is a part of, well, the Eternal plan of God (Ephesians 3:9-11).
It is exciting that every time we teach a class, or preach a sermon we are answering the call of God. It is exciting that we are a part of God’s choice.
It is exciting that God can take clay pots like us, and turn us into His men, who commit our lives to doing His Will.
It is exciting that He uses us to accomplish His purpose in this world.
It is exciting to know that in spite of our weakness and imperfection, that our God allows us to serve His people anyway.
It is exciting that we are blessed to share the unsearchable riches of Christ with people who don’t yet know Him.
It is exciting when we see lives changed by the power of the Gospel.
It is exciting when we see marriages strengthened by the Word of God.
It is exciting when we see young people making a difference in the world around them because they have been impacted by the Gospel.
No wonder Paul proclaimed, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). That is exciting, and that is God’s choice!
It was a particularly challenging day. Whether biorhythms, or bad eating, or lack of sleep, or the occasional general stress of ministry, yeah, it was a Monday for me. Everyone has them in every area of work that is meaningful and impactful. Even ministers.
I was wallowing in a bit of pity. A thought struck me deep in my head and heart. THIS MATTERS. What we are doing matters. Preaching matters. Ministry matters. On those difficult Mondays, you need to be reminded that this thing that we do matters.
This matters because God wants His Word preached. This matters because God wants His church served. This matters because the Gospel is the only hope for the lost. This matters to little children who need a mentor. This matters to young couples who need a voice that says stay together. This matters to unborn babies who need a voice. This matters to people growing old who need to hear finishing strong is significant. It matters to the discouraged who need a voice that pleads that it is worth it. This matters because the Lord died for every soul. This matters because His Kingdom matters. This matters because God said this matters.
And the next time you feel small or ineffective, the next time you're tempted to toss in the towel and trade in time shares, the next time you are made to feel as if what you do is a waste - remember this matters … to God.
Without a doubt, one of the most amazing, most wonderful, and most beautiful blessings God has given to us is our voice.
No, I’m not saying that we all have beautiful voices. Some of you guys do. Some of us, not so much! But the fact that God has given us a voice to communicate His Word, for His Glory, is a beautiful gift.
The question for those of us who preach is, how are we using our voice? Do we use our voice in life-giving ways?
Perhaps, one of the reasons the masses of people were drawn to our Savior was the fact that He used His voice, His words to encourage everyone. This would no doubt include His authenticity, His compassion, His love, His kindness, His willingness to speak Truth, and His passion for doing the Will of the Father.
Jesus was never too busy, He was never in too much of a hurry, He was looked past others because there was someone more important.
Doesn’t it make sense then, that those of us who claim to speak on His behalf would incorporate these same characteristics in the way we use our voices?
A wise man once said, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Shouldn’t we use life-giving words when we speak to those closest to us; Our wives, our children, our co-workers, our leaders, and our friends?
We work and live among people every day who are beat-up and put down on a regular basis. People are stressed, they’re anxious, they’re angry, they’re insecure, they’re discouraged. The desperately need to hear some life-giving words from God’s spokesmen.
My prayer for all of us this week is that we will allow God to use us this week to share life-giving words with everyone around us!
I don’t know what kind of day you had, but on any given Sunday a certain number of ministers will have had especially difficult days.
I want you to know: You have permission to feel bad, to have an off day, to not hit a home run every time you present, to get discouraged, to question your own effectiveness, to think that perhaps you should be doing something else with your life, to feel under-appreciated, to wonder if anyone is listening, in short…to be human.
As you read 2 Corinthians, this beautiful inspired book, that contains so much of the personal heart of Paul, you’ll realize he too dealt with the difficulties of ministry and the potential for depression that can come with it (esp 4:8-9 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed).
But remember, the work we do is ultimately not about our emotions, our feelings, our sense of need or validation. There are souls to be taught, lost to be reached, faith to be built. Yes, give yourself the occasional pass when you don’t live up to the standard you wish to reach. You have permission to have an off day - a bad day - but you do not have permission to stay there.