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.
Hey there, O Preacher of the Gospel.
I see you.
I am you.
I also see that it’s Friday, and unlike most people who get to roll out the driveway in anticipation of the glorious weekend that’s beckoning, it’s not quite the same for you. You have that unfinished heap of chicken scratchings that may or may not be a sermon threatening to leap through your laptop and put a chokehold on your very existence. There it lies, ever-looming in the dark crevices of your mind, not letting you think straight and oftentimes even sleep straight through the long hours of the night. Unlike the majority of your neighbors who will soon get to leave their job behind and come home to kiss their spouse, play with their kids, have a night on the town, enjoy some downtime with friends, or indulge in one of their favorite hobbies, you have this ever-expanding feeling of nausea in the pit of your stomach because Sunday ain’t getting further away, and you gotta have something to say.
Such is the curious and at times, infuriating life of a preacher. So why am I writing this column? To gleefully remind you of your pain?
Just the opposite, in fact.
I’m guessing you have at least dozens of books (at minimum) in your library that provide you with steps on how to become a better preacher, tips on how to prepare a good manuscript, tricks on how to preach without notes, and insights for how to be a better expositor of the text.
This will not be that.
What I believe you need more than anything else on Friday is the same thing I need:
Reassurance. Encouragement. Reminding.
And more than anything else, the comfort that the Good Shepherd provides, who draws near to His undershepherds with compassion as they faithfully struggle their way into Sunday week after week. My heart for you, dear friend, is that your sermon doesn’t become the dragon that threatens to slay you every Friday afternoon.
So what I’m going to attempt to do is write a mercifully short note of encouragement to remind you that what you bring into the pulpit every Sunday is more than that sermon you’d like to occasionally burn in the fire (if you still use paper notes) out of sheer frustration. I’d like to reassure you that you are God’s child, not His sermon. I’d like to gently tell you that your sermon is not the best thing you bring into the pulpit every Sunday. That would be your character. And your Christ.
It is Jesus Himself who brings you, and me, into the pulpit every week. Yeah, what you bring with you matters, but He Who has brought you matters infinitely more.
And He will carry you forever.
The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. -Psalm 28:8-9