Friday, October 21, 2011

Thinking About Preaching

Thinking Soberly About Teaching and Preaching

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

Sometimes preachers and teachers are blessed to present a homerun sermon or class. Everything clicks. Hearers visibly engage. The illustrations energize. Memory functions perfectly. The hearers connect, the lesson flows, and it feels great.

When that happens, we’re blessed to enjoy the moment. And we’re blessed to remember that this moment was a blessing from God. If the sermon was faithful, it flowed from His life-changing word (Romans 10:14-17, 2 Timothy 3:14-17). If the class was powerful, the power flowed from the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). If the lesson was beneficial, God was the true source of the blessing (James 1:17). And we were blessed by God to be an instrument of His grace.

If we’re not careful, the devil will rob us of such moments. He will tempt us to pride. He will ask us to think, “I did well. I thought well. I created something special. I made this work.” He will help us avoid thinking of Luke 12:16-21 and Romans 12:3). He will insist that we forget Acts 12:20-24. He will invite us to put ourselves ahead of God.

If that doesn’t work, the devil will try the opposite. He will tempt us to fear or to false humility. He will ask us to think, “I can’t enjoy this moment. If I enjoy it, then I’m claiming to be something special. If I enjoy it, I’m thinking too highly of myself.” He will help us avoid thinking of Acts 18:27-28 and 1 Thessalonians 1:13. He will insist that we forget 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. He will invite us to declare ourselves unfit to serve the Lord.

I love homerun lessons whenever they come. But I want to remember the following:

  • What I think to be a homerun may not be. While we want to do our best for God, God often does much with little. I should be grateful for the opportunity to try.
  • No one does homerun lessons every time. There’s virtually no limit to human frailty. We need to pray for God’s wisdom, strength, and guidance.
  • What’s a homerun sermon to some hearers may be of far less benefit to others. It’s not that the word is weak, but our hearing—like our teaching—is far from perfect. No lesson connects equally well for every hearer.
  • We’re blessed to learn from failures and successes. If a lesson didn’t work, why not? How could it be improved? Was it a failure of prayer? Of study? Of attitude? If it worked, how can that lead us to even more effective service to the Lord?

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