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.