The work was intense. The translation of the passage from the original, the observations from the text, the asking questions, and the finishing of the product. I felt like I had put in numerous hours labouring over what I thought to be an excellent sermon. I consulted numerous references, commentaries and Study Bibles.
I spoke with a number of my friends about the passage. I felt good until Sunday morning arrived. I realized through the introduction a number of my points did not make any sense. I looked at the congregation and some sat looking confused. The sermon sounded better when I practiced earlier. I stumbled a number of times and my cross-references weren’t as clear as I thought.
I came from the pulpit, dejected, defeated and deflated. I wanted to go bury my head in the ground. My desire was to be faithful to the text. But, the sermon ended up sounding jumbled. As I reflected, I was informed by a dear brother of mine of some good reminders when your sermon feels like trash.
Reminder #1 – Trust God
Pastor remember God is the one who gives you the strength and ability to carry out His Word. Moses had a number of excuses why he felt as if inadequate and insufficient for the task before him. He tried all the ways he knew how to excuse himself from what God was calling him to do.
In some cases, he was right. He was inadequate and insufficient. But, this is the very reason why God used him. God uses imperfect people for His perfect plans. One thing we need to be reminded is our faith and trust should not be in our own abilities or strength. Our faith and our trust should be in Him.
We need to be dependent upon the Lord as we preach week in and week out. Often, we become dependent upon our own abilities and gifts. We have the tendency to forget the one who is the giver. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (Jas 1:17).
Reminder #2 – The Power of the Word
Pastor remember God is faithful to His Word. His Word will not come back void. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
God is faithful to His Word even when it appears you are not. God will use His Word to change the lives of His people. His Word will continue to go forth, and through the power of the Spirit, the Word will work in the hearts to those in which He wills. When you are troubled, be reminded of His Word: “My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word” (Ps 119:25). Now, this doesn’t give the authorization to be lazy in my study. But, when I have to the best of my abilities put in time and it doesn’t “sound right,” I must trust God and His Word.
Reminder #3 – Let Your Progress Be Seen by All
In other words, learn from this experience. What are some ways you can grow as a preacher? One of the ways I’ve found to be most helpful is having other trusted brothers listen to my sermons and provide feedback.
What I’ve found is others can see my flaws and shortcomings a lot quicker than I can. “Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). We are never going to be perfect preachers. However, we should strive to be growing in our preaching.
This won’t be the last time I feel as if one of my sermons feels like trash. However, what I can be assured of is my sermon is not about me. It’s not about the effectiveness of my sound or my appearance. It is about God’s word being faithfully preached and I cannot do this in and of myself. There was only one perfect preacher and His name is Jesus.
I need to desperately depend upon the Lord throughout the time of preparation and preaching. Pastor, you may think your sermon sounds horrible, but sometimes you’ll find the sermons you feel the worst about are the ones others have been truly edified. Continue to trust God and trust the power of His Word.