How was your sermon yesterday? Did you interpret the text well? Illustrate it clearly? How was your introduction? Did everyone “get on the bus?” Was your outline memorable and followable? How about your close?
If you are like me there are plenty of weeks you’ll grade yourself out low on these.
Last week I was in a class with a small group of people who did not know me. The teacher had each of us introduce ourselves. Naturally in my introduction I included that I am a preacher. A little later, the teacher referred to me as a pastor. While I don’t always do it, I said, “Actually, I’m a preacher, not a pastor.” All heads turned as the preacher responder “What’s the difference.” Before giving a more instructive answer, I jokingly said: “A pastor has to care for people, a preacher just preaches.”
In your opinion you may not have graded out well in your preaching Sunday, but that doesn’t mean your day was wasted. Obviously, your sermon is significant, but your ministry is much more than those words you spoke for 20-45 minutes yesterday.
Those words may often be remembered, but the attention you gave to a young child, the time you sat and listened to an aging sister tell of her aches, the moments you answered the ethical question of a business man, the interaction with a teen about their weekend athletic endeavors, the time in counsel with a sister struggling with her faith, the hug for a widower still struggling in his year old grief, the welcome you gave to a new family who is experiencing that discomfort many face when walking into a new place, the knowing pat on the shoulder toward someone who had called you earlier to confess a private struggle, the sincere smile you share with a sister battling depression, these will be remembered. I bet you did much better than the grade you placed on your sermon. Yes, you preached and/or taught, and I’m so thankful you did, but I pray when you give yourself a “low C” on the sermon, you’ll remember — You ministered. And your moments in ministry will last much longer in the hearts of people than a masterful message. Step lively, what you do matters. Don’t quit. We need you preacher, we need your ministry.