This continues the fictional encounter with a young pastor friend that I began on Monday.
Good to see you this morning! I hope your week is going well.
The other day you asked me how you can know if your preaching is “good enough.”
I think a lot of us wonder that, especially when we’re young. Like I said on Monday, even veteran pastors wonder from time to time about their preaching. But it’s not an easy question to answer because it’s hard to quantify exactly what is and isn’t “good enough”.
When you ask that question, you’re really asking if your sermons minister to people. You’re thinking about how to be a better preacher. So let’s talk about that. I’ve got some suggestions that I think are really key to a young man developing as a preacher and teacher, so here goes:
First, it’s vital to remember that God created you, gifted you, and called you. I can’t overstate this. You are unique. Everyone develops their own unique preaching style and developing your style takes time. But your style should be your own.
I was thinking about David and Goliath. Remember how Saul wanted David to wear his armor into battle, and David tried it on and then tossed it aside because it wasn’t him? Obviously that passage has nothing to do with preaching. But it illustrates my point: David couldn’t be Saul and be effective. And you can’t be someone you’re not and preach well. So at the outset, don’t try to imitate someone else.
Another thing to remember is that our effectiveness as preachers is greatly enhanced when we show humility and genuinely care for our people. They can tell whether we’re merely orators or whether we’re caring shepherds. If you love your people, your preaching will have credibility even if it doesn’t have polish. I suspect that there are a lot of churches who hear perfectly average sermons from perfectly average preachers Sunday after Sunday. But those average preachers are effective in their churches because they love their people.
You should also keep in mind that most of the time we can’t see how God is working in people’s lives. Occasionally someone will tell you how what you said was helpful. Some congregations might be given to that more than others. But the best measure of your preaching is seen over time. In another blog post, I compared the result of hearing the Word the way we form an object from paper mache. We add layer upon layer until the object finally takes shape.
Think about what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV). We are being transformed. It’s a process.
You will be surprised by how and when God uses you. Sometimes here would be a Sunday when I thought my sermon was awful. And guess what? I’d have people tell me how God ministered to them. I’d be thinking, “That can’t be – the sermon was horrible.” But God used it anyway. So remember that how you feel about how you did on a particular Sunday is probably not a good measure of what really took place.
It may not be easy to know how good your preaching is, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a more effective preacher. If you keep these things in mind, I think you’ll be laying the foundation for being the kind of preacher you want to be.
Let’s talk again on Friday about some practical ways we can improve our preaching, ok?