Few thoughts are more haunting for a preacher than forgetting: forgetting one's Bible, notes, illustration, outline, or conclusion. Several hours of preparation, hopefully, have readied one to explain and apply a passage of Scripture to a group of people. To forget aspects of that preparation can be maddening.

There is a kind of forgetfulness, however, that should be pursued and prayed for: self-forgetfulness. This is not to say that any self-reflection before, during, or after the sermon is to be completely avoided. In fact, sermon reviews done well can be extremely beneficial and humbling. It is to say though that the most God-honoring, people-serving preaching is preaching absorbed with God and Bible-expounded truth, not the preacher himself.

Preachers are pointers. Nonetheless, personality cannot be exempt from preaching. Every preacher is wired differently and that wiring can be seen in sermon delivery, yet the desire of every preacher should be to be anointed by God in such a way that the preacher is forgotten by himself and the listeners.

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones in his classic book, Preaching and Preachers, states: "The greatest of all the temptations that assail a preacher is pride."[1] Truth be told, the preacher himself is often the biggest obstacle he must overcome in the sermon process. There is a constant fight in the areas of discipline and godliness, and the main opponent is ourselves. In your preparation or delivery, do you think often about yourself? "How will I sound? How do I sound? What did the audience think of me? Will I be invited back to preach here?" These kind of questions might flood the mind on an occasion when we are preaching to a larger audience or to people we look up to or want high affirmation from. We must uncover our anxiety in preaching. Is our anxiety due to wanting God's truth to be received and loved or wanting our name to be praised?

How do preachers overcome thought about self in preaching? Lloyd Jones gives an answer: "…be so absorbed in what you are doing and in the realization of the presence of God, and in the glory and greatness of the Truth that you are preaching, and the occasion that brings you together, that you are so taken up by all this that you forget yourself completely." He continued, "Self is the greatest enemy of the preacher, more so than in the case of any other man in society. And the only way to deal with self is to be taken up with, and so enraptured by, the glory of what you are doing, that you forget yourself altogether."[2]

What is "the glory of what you are doing" that Lloyd-Jones speaks to? It is the underserved privilege to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8) from the inerrant word of God to people who desperately need its message (Mt 4:4). We preach in the "presence of God and of Christ Jesus" (2 Tm 4:2) and hold a treasure in clay-like hands (2 Cor 4:7).

To be free from self-reflection and consumed with the glory of the preaching moment is a gift of God, which is why we must diligently pray for self-forgetfulness. Among the whole host of requests we are bringing to God for the preaching event, freedom from ourselves must be one.

[1] D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 271.

[2] Ibid., 279.