The Weight of Inadequacy

Many people don’t like Monday’s because it marks the end of their weekend and the start of a new work week.  As a teaching pastor, I have discovered that Monday’s are days where discouragement often strikes.  The day to daydream about the 9-5 sort of job.  The jobs pastors daydream about are sort of funny.  I have heard that Driscoll daydreams about being a bread baker, others UPS drivers, and many others that offer clear work and off hours.  Why are Mondays so brutal for preaching pastors? It is a strange thing really.  I am convinced that this is a reality for most pastors…or I hope I am not alone.

I read “Preaching for God’s Glory” by Alistair Begg the other day (and am currently reading “On Being a Pastor“).  I really liked it and suggest that you as a preaching pastor read it!  There was a line in it that resonated with me in light of this post.  He quoted this from Thornwell, “Any man who has had some glimpse of what it is to preach will inevitably feel that he has never preached. But he will go on trying, hoping that by the grace of God one day he may truly preach.”  This quote nails the weight of our strain so clearly.

The weight of the Word.  We have been given this awesome responsibility to communicate God’s Word to the people in our midst.  Who am I to convey this?  I need to hear it more than I need to preach it!

This awesome responsibility drives us to study, meditate, and to pray about the text.  The pastor who understands his task and his responsibility (notice that we “will give an account” (Hebrews 13:17) to  before God for our people’s souls) to effectively communicate His Word is driven to study the text!

The limited ability to transfer your study to the people.  In seminary, yes I support the value of Bible Colleges and Seminary (good ones that are anchored in the Word of God), a professor made an illustration of the importance of individual study.  He said something along the lines that a mother bird can effectively transfer nutrients by chewing up her food and then vomiting it into her chicks mouth.  Unfortunately, the only real way for one to gain nutrients of the Word is to study and digest on their own.   As a preaching pastor you should have so consumed that text that it permeates all of your thoughts and dreams.  So after seven days of study, you only have 45-75 minutes to transfer what God has taught you from the text.  There is no way to transfer everything, therefore you will always feel like you dropped the ball in your teaching.

Seek to please God in your preparation.  I have been preaching week-to-week now for about five years.  In this time I have discovered that I can walk away from the sermon feeling two things that are not mutually independent: 1) I pleased God with my delivery, and/or 2) I delivered in a technically sound way to the people.  I have discovered that I am most satisfied when my prep time and heart are in the right place with God as I deliver the sermon.  In contrast, I am least satisfied when, regardless of the sermon delivery, my heart or prep time were not pleasing to the Lord.  Each week my goal is to prepare in a way that is pleasing to Him.  I don’t always succeed due to life.

Be yourself and relax!  I can’t tell you how encouraged I was to read Charles Swindoll encourage young preachers to be themselves in their preaching.  Too often young pastors try to be someone other than themselves in their preaching.  God created you uniquely and your preaching style will be unique to your personality.  The sooner you realize you are not Rick Warren, Charles Swindoll, Allistair Begg, Chuck Smith, or David Jeremiah the better off you will be!

Connect with other pastors.  One of the greatest blessings in my growth towards maturity as a teaching pastor is the fellowship I have shared with other senior pastors that are further down the road then myself.  They have so much wisdom to share and understand what you are talking about if you are venting.  I highly encourage you to find a “Paul” in your life as it relates to preaching.

1 reply
  1. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Gunnar – I’ve never thought of preaching as vomiting into other people, but I’m sure that those I serve will testify that I occasionally blow chunks! I, too, have glimpsed what real preaching should be like and maybe one day I’ll touch what I have seen. Thanks for setting the vision out there and for the admonition to not settle. I appreciate it.

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