Preacher, Don’t Trust Yourself In Your Preaching: Five Common, But Overlooked Pitfalls

Image by © Blue Images/Corbis
Image by © Blue Images/Corbis

I’m not certain the average Christian recognizes how many pitfalls there are in preaching. Of course, you don’t need any special training to recognize when a preacher is truly struggling with a sermon. We can feel that. And, anyone with even a little Christian experience is aware that pride can be a temptation to the preacher. In fact, the apostle Paul took special note of pride and Satan’s snares when listing qualifications for pastors.

But there are other challenges to the preacher’s life that may be less obvious. Take, for example, trust. I suspect that most preachers regularly fight to put their trust in the correct place when it comes to their preaching. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m probably not alone. It seems to me it’s easy for the preacher to trust himself even when he doesn’t intend to.

Here a few ways that can happen:

  1. Trust Our Preparation

This is tricky. I believe in preparation. Preaching is hard work and a lazy man shouldn’t do it. In addition, good preparation can and should produce a certain kind of readiness and confidence. But we should never trust our preparation as if it were sufficient for preaching. We must never rely on our exegesis, our homiletical discovery, or our time in commentaries. Those are all necessary, but they can fail.

  1. Trust Our Spiritual Condition

Sometimes a preacher may look to the welfare of their own soul. If things are going well in their soul, they tend to believe things are likely to go well with the preaching. So personal devotion becomes a kind of preparation that we trust. And in that way the preacher becomes a “professional Christian” of sorts. But what about the dry season’s in the preacher’s life? If we slip into trusting our spiritual condition then it’s likely our dry seasons make us less confident in the pulpit and more uncertain about our labors. But God uses a depressed Elijah or a weeping Jeremiah as effectively as He uses a rejoicing apostle in a Philippian jail. We should tend our own souls very carefully, but we should not trust the report when it comes to our preaching.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition