"A religious writer asked for a word of wisdom.
Said the Master,
'Some people write to make a living; others to share their insights or raise questions that will haunt their readers; others yet to understand their very souls.
'None of these will last.
'That distinction belongs to those who write only because if they did not they would burst.'"*
—Anthony deMello, Awakening: Conversations with the Master
Is this how you feel when you write your sermons?
Like if you don't preach you'll burst?
That you can't not preach?
As if to hold the Gospel in would be to ask too much of your spirit?
I hope so!
But if you don't feel this way, would you like to feel preaching were this integral to your being?
Disclaimer: I wish I could offer a seven-step, guaranteed program to ensure you'll feel this passionate about your preaching every week.
But I can't.
Such a suggestion would be hubris because only the Holy Spirit can make this happen.
However, I can tell you a program guaranteed to ensure you won't feel this passionate about your preaching, ever: only read the Word for your congregation's sake.
Consider how we feed people with the Word week in and week out:
- Bible studies
When we're only using the Word as a necessary tool for ministry, sure, we get fed on the side. But we don't eat the main course. When we don't sit at the banquet table and feast daily on the Word ourselves, we slowly starve ourselves.
We know we're starving when:
- Preaching becomes a test of strength, willpower, and adrenaline.
- Preaching doesn't give us life, it drains it.
- Preaching hangs over our heads all week.
Not only is that not fun for any one Sunday, it's a dismal prospect when counting the number of sermons left until retirement.
For some, the number of Sundays yet to preach is enough to cause them to wonder whether they should leave ministry altogether.
That's tragic and entirely avoidable.
Plus, I don't think that's what God had in mind when God asked each of us to become a preacher.
Be Nourished by the Word
So, how about it? Ready to be fed by the Word? To feast? Right now?
When you're done reading this post, invite the Word to feed you.
Spend your next ten minutes reading scripture (any passage you like as long as it doesn't have to do with work), then then spend ten minutes with God in quiet.
Let yourself be fed by the Source of all words.
Savor each word.
Relish the silence.
Rest and breathe.
Receive your daily bread
For the next five days, I'm going to send an email reminder to our newsletter subscribers to be fed each morning. The message will have this heading in the subject line: "Be Fed by the Word." There will be no further message so you don't even have to open the email.
Let this inbox prompt encourage you to schedule twenty minutes of spiritual feasting into your day: ten minutes reading scripture and ten minutes in silence.
If you feel so moved, write me a message and tell me whether it affects your preaching prep or any other aspect of ministry. Or write a comment on the Backstory Preaching Facebook Page if you want to shout it from the rooftops.
I'll pray for you this week as you spend time with the Source of all words.
Be Good News to Preach Good News,
P.S. If this post gives you hope, then join me for Summer Camp for Preachers. It's held live, online, one hour per day for five days in a row (May 22-26), followed by one hour per week for seven weeks, working through our pdf E-course Craft an Effective Sermon by Friday.
You'll become a more effective preacher because you'll devote time to the Word and work on both your preaching skills and preaching habits. In other words, there's a lot more hope where this post came from!