by Aaron Earls
There are two equally destructive ways to look at preaching—thinking you are somehow worthy to deliver the sermon because of your skills, and thinking someone else’s abilities make them more worthy.
1. Thinking you are worthy
For experienced pastors or those who have a natural charisma, the temptation can be to “believe all your press clippings.” You can buy into the hype of those around you telling you how great you are.
Before you realize what has happened, you take pride in the sermons you preach and the lessons you teach. You begin to rob God of the glory that belongs only to Him.
As a pastor and as a Christian, you are a clay jar that has been allowed to hold and deliver to others a treasure of unsurpassable greatness (2 Corinthians 4:7). But do not lose sight of the fact that it is the treasure, not the jar, that is and should always be the point.
History is littered with pastors who had more charisma and more raw talent than anyone else, but their pride and arrogance prevented them from faithfully crossing the finish line of their ministry.
Paul, in discussing what it means for the church to be a body, said, “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one” (Romans 12:3).
2. Thinking someone else is worthy
For less experienced or less charismatic preachers, you can know the biblical text is powerful, feel as if the sermon outline captured the text, but the weight of your inadequacies seems so heavy you wish someone else could deliver the sermon you’ve been given.
But if God gave you the opportunity and gifted you to dive into the text, you are the one He has called to deliver it. Who are you to tell Him He is wrong?
Just like those who arrogantly believe they can preach without God, the one who wishes someone else could do it is still placing more emphasis on their own abilities than God’s glory, except in that case, it is a perceived lack of abilities.
No, you don’t have all the right skills and abilities to deliver God’s Word to God’s people, but neither do any of the most accomplished and well-known pastors. All of them are just as unworthy as you.
The Right Perspective
No one is gifted enough or holy enough to pick up the Bible and preach from its passages without the calling of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. If you have those two things, you have what you need most.
Those preaching and teaching the Bible to God’s people should constantly work to be better, regardless of their current level of ability. You should always be striving to increase your skill and comfort level. But as you do that, you must never forget that God is the one who will honor the preaching of His Word.
Ultimately, the ability to deliver God’s Word lies only in the God of the Word. That is enough to humble the self-assured preacher and correct the self-doubting one.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.