Although I have been preaching full-time for the past 31 years, I know that many men have preached much longer than that. So while I know that I still have much to learn about preaching, I do think I’ve been at it to know a few things.
Here are three things I believe preachers need to be reminded of periodically.
1. Remember that we can fool the brethren, but we can’t fool God. We’ve all had it happen to us. For one reason or another, we didn’t have time or didn’t give time to adequate sermon preparation so we just “threw something together.” And as sure as we do that, we’ll have half a dozen members meet us at the door and say something like, “That was one of the most thought out and helpful sermons I’ve ever heard you preach.” So we think, “Maybe that’s God’s way of reminding me the power is in the gospel, not the messenger.” Maybe, but have you ever thought it might be the Devil’s way of convincing us that study and preparation aren’t important?
Preachers, we need to study and prepare ourselves to preach. We’re handling the gospel of Christ! Souls hang in the balance. It’s not routine. It’s not a weekly performance that’s one of the requirements to receive a paycheck. Our preaching must be urgent, timely, well thought out, and delivered as one who is preaching to dying men. Don’t approach this task frivolously. We may fool your brethren, but we can’t fool God.
2. Remember that we represent Jesus. Consequently, give special care that you don’t misrepresent him. Don’t be angry about matters that don’t make Jesus angry. Don’t withhold compassion when Jesus would have shown compassion. Don’t be impatient with people when Jesus would have shown patience. Not only do we represent God through the things we say, we also represent God through the attitudes we display. And likewise, not only can we misrepresent God by the things we say, we can also misrepresent God through the attitudes we display. Make sure that not only do people “hear Jesus” when they listen to you, they “see Jesus” when they watch you.
3. Remember our indebtedness. First of all, there’s our indebtedness to Jesus, who saved us from our sins. Then there’s our indebtedness to the people who introduced us to Jesus (i.e. our parents, our Bible class teachers, our spouse, our neighbor or co-worker, etc.). How can we then, who have been given so much, do anything less than our best in trying to share with others the blessings we have received?
While these aren’t the only things a preacher needs to remember, I do believe that we’ll be better preachers if we remember these three things.