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10 Reasons Preaching Is Scary

Reasons to never let yourself become cavalier about your preaching.

Reasons to never let yourself become cavalier about your preaching.

By Chuck Lawless

Anybody who knows me probably knows I love to preach. I so clearly knew God’s calling many years ago that only disobedience would allow me to ignore preaching today.

To be candid, though, preaching scares me. Here’s why:

  1. I will answer to God for what I say. As a 13-year-old, I strongly sensed God’s guiding me: “I want you to preach My Word.” I know God will hold me accountable for every word I say, and He will not ignore any carelessness from my lips (Matt. 12:36-37). Recklessness in preaching is an invitation to judgment.
  1. What I do affects eternity. Here I am not suggesting that my preaching somehow trumps the sovereignty of God. On the contrary, I am simply aware that God uses the proclamation of His Word to save souls (Rom. 10:9-15). That truth means that preaching really does have an eternal impact.
  2. I may have only one opportunity to speak truth to a hearer. A nonbeliever (or a believer, for that matter) may sit under my preaching only one time. In the midst of a busy life, he/she may offer listening ears for only a few minutes. I will miss that one-time open door if my preaching wanders from the Word.
  3. It’s easier to talk about “stuff” than it is to teach the Word. Preaching is hard work. From personal exegesis of the text to public proclamation of the message, preachers must dig into the Word, soak in it, be cleansed by it and then deliver it. It’s just easier to use a few Bible verses as a launching pad to preach about “stuff” than to do the hard work of Bible exposition—and that reality scares me.
  4. At least for a few minutes, everybody is focused on me. Maybe I’m uniquely fallen, but I like the affirmations that come with preaching. For a short while, I am the “man of God” to whom others look for truth. Yes, I want my preaching to direct them to Jesus, but I must be honest with myself: Preaching frightens me because it can instead become a means to build my ego.
  5. I can preach in my own strength. I’ve been preaching for 38 years, 33 of those in full-time ministry. I have two graduate degrees from a seminary, and I’ve taught preaching courses. What frightens me is that I can rely on my training, my knowledge and my experience when I preach—and completely lack the power and blessing of God.
  1. Preaching puts my life under the microscope. Those who listen to my sermons presume my life will validate my words. I preach the Word publicly on Sunday, but they have a right to see obedience and faithfulness in my life every day of the week. In fact, the very Word I preach gives them the lens through which to view my life. That’s humbling … and a bit disconcerting.
  2. The devil attacks preachers. The gospel is “God’s power for salvation” (Rom. 1:16, HCSB). Thus, it is not surprising that the enemy aims his arrows at preachers to hinder us from preaching and living out the Word. Our very calling to proclaim the gospel puts the enemy’s bullseye on our back.
  3. Somebody probably won’t like something about the message. It’s too long. Or too short. Not enough Bible. Too much Bible. Too much application, or not enough application. You’re too loud. Or too soft. You don’t preach like my favorite preachers on the Internet. For those of us who can wrongly be perfectionistic and people-pleasing at times, preaching is a risky endeavor.
  4. Somebody will listenSomebody who hears will take the message to heart and follow it. I’ve been in places around the world where hearers take the message and proclaim it almost word-for-word that day to their villages. If somebody is going to listen, I need to approach the Word with seriousness and humility.

For all these reasons, preaching scares me a bit. But here’s what scares me the most: that I will someday approach preaching without the earnestness it demands. I’m well aware that a healthy respect for the task today can become only routine tomorrow.

Please pray that God will give me grace to keep that slide from happening. If you are a preacher, share this post—and invite others to pray for you as well.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.
 
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Publicado por em 30/04/2015 em POIMENIA

 

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The Hardest Part of Ministry: Saying No – David Hansen

Saying “no” can help focus your ministry, your leadership and your preaching.

I am an ordained pastor, serving a rural congregation. I lead worship and preach most Sundays. I sit at hospital beds. I conduct weddings and funerals and baptisms. I talk with people who are struggling with their faith. I lead meetings and help the community discover its vision. I celebrate with people, I rejoice with people.

When people talk to me about what I do, they often focus on those aspects that deal with death. Most Americans don’t spend a lot of time around death—our culture has largely sanitized the experience of death. Because of this unfamiliarity, most people assume that dealing with death is the hardest thing about being a pastor. It’s not.

The hardest part of being a pastor is saying no.

Not just saying no when asked by someone to do some task, but saying no to yourself and limiting the amount of work that you do. The work of ministry is not a finite task. At the end of the day when I go home, I can’t point to some finished product and say, “That’s what I did today.” There is always more to be done in ministry.

There is always more to be done. No matter how much you have done in a given day or week or month:

1. You can always spend more time visiting with people who are sick and homebound.

2. You can always spend more time talking with people who are grieving or hurting.

3. You can always spend more time at community events.

4. You can always spend more time reading, studying and praying.

5. You can always put yourself in charge of one more project or program.

6. You can always spend more time crafting and sharpening your preaching and worship leadership skills.

Short of the return of our Lord Jesus, there will always be more for those in ministry to do—some task will always be left unfinished when you stop working for the day.

There is a great satisfaction that comes with knowing that tasks have been finished, knowing that everything is complete. And for most people, it is uncomfortable to know that things are unfinished. But that is precisely the nature of ministry—unfinished.

But while the tasks of ministry aren’t finite, those of us in ministry most certainly are!

There comes a point when we have to stop. At some point, even if we could spend more time visiting, or reading, or teaching, or planning, we have to go home and be done for the day. We come to the point where we have to say, to ourselves or to others, “No, I can’t do that.”

As pastors, we do this work because we think it is important. We are passionate about the Gospel, and we care about the people whom we serve. And this makes it hard to say “No.” This passion for our work is precisely what makes it hard to say that there is not time for another program or project or meeting.

Unfortunately for many in ministry, the first thing to go is self-care: being rested, spending time with family, caring for our own souls. Next to go is often the work behind the scenes: the hard work of keeping oneself prepared for ministry—reading, attending learning events, all the things pastors and others in ministry do to make us better preachers, counselors, leaders and pastors.

And this is how burnout happens.

In ministry it often feels like the solution is to work more. The voice in our head says that if only I could work for a couple more hours, then the ministry of the congregation I serve would be more effective. But the opposite is true. An overworked pastor — one who does not set limits — becomes more and more ineffective at the work to which we are called.

This is the reality of living in this in-between time; when the work of the kingdom has begun but the kingdom has not yet come. No matter how much we do, the work of the kingdom will remain unfinished – and there is only one who can finish it.

If you are a ministry professional, learn this lesson well: Say no. Set limits. Learn to live in that place where there is more that could be done, and some tasks are unfinished.

And if you have a pastor or other minister whom you care about, encourage them to say no—encourage them to care for themselves, to set limits and to continue to make time to study and learn.

David Hansen

David Hansen

David Hansen is a Lutheran pastor serving in Texas. He helps pastors and churches to use new technology to bring the Good News to the world, and can be found on twitter @rev_david.

SOURCE: SERMON CENTRAL

 
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Publicado por em 12/11/2013 em POIMENIA

 

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