Editor’s Note: The weekend can be an incredibly distressing time for many pastors to enter into. The desire to spend quality time with family while juggling the pressures of an unfinished sermon can be an exhausting reality. What many pastors need are not more tips on how to prepare better sermons as much as some encouragement to better prepare their hearts to preach the sermon they have. Join Ronnie Martin every Friday for The Preachers Corner, where he offers some words of comfort and stories of hope to help preachers enter the weekend encouraged by the gentle and lowly heart of Jesus.
A sermon is never finished.
Depending on the kind of person you are, that either evokes a sigh or a sigh or relief in you. What I mean is that until you actually step up and preach the thing, a sermon can be endlessly changed, edited, revised or tossed across the room into an overflowing trash bin of frustration.
This is probably one of the reasons that preaching can feel so heavy, and with a weight that feels nothing less than unbearable at times. And preaching should be heavy in some sense, right? There is a weighty kind of weight for the person who steps up to the pulpit and declares “Thus says the Lord.” And if that ain’t heavy enough, James bluntly informs us that teachers will be “judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).
If that was the only kind of weight we carried, we would likely spend the time we’re not clicking away on our keys kneeling before the Lord, and pleading for His help.
But I wonder if the weight we often carry is mixed with a less weighty weight? One that manifests itself in those unspoken cavities of the heart that seek things like authority, affirmation, acclaim and adulation. The kind of weight that keeps our pulses racing at night because what we actually crave is a sermon that will spotlight us as intelligent, funny, thoughtful, and insightful people. A sermon where we get to share some of God’s unshareable glory. All of this creates a heaviness, but it’s not the kind you or I really want. It’s not an “eternal weight of glory” that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 4:17, which is how we learn to endure some of the momentary affliction that accompanies the Christian life.
No, these are the subtle weights of the world. Anchorless passions and wandering desires that form hearts heavy with cares that we were never meant to carry.
Is this the kind of weight you carry as you slog your way toward Sunday morning week after week? Has the pulpit become the proving ground of your worth to the world once again?
Maybe you need to stop. Stop and reset your gaze on the weightier weight that you hold in your hands as you open God’s word with your people. The weightier weight that is contained in your heart because of the Spirit that inhabits it. The weightier weight of your mind that Christ is transforming and renewing day by day.
This preaching thing was never meant to be about us. When we begin to believe that, the easy yoke of Jesus will lighten our weighty hearts with a love that is heavier than the very universe itself.