Have you ever had that terrible feeling after preaching a sermon?
You know, the feeling where you can't wait to get home and hide under the covers?
Every pastor experiences it. All pastors dread it.
The sermon is over, and you conclude your message was terrible. For those who preach 40 to 100 times a year, it will happen. Indeed it will happen on more than one occasion. Here are seven things for you to consider at that moment.
- Your self-assessment could be wrong. Just because you think the sermon stinks doesn't mean others feel the same. Pastors are typically their own worst critics. The Holy Spirit works in ways we do not readily see.
- The critic could be wrong. Sometimes we feel lousy because of something a church member said after the sermon. I used to cringe when someone would tell me how a television, radio or podcast preacher approached the text in a better way. Guess what? That church member could be dead wrong. Don't assume he or she knows how God really worked in your sermon.
- Our standards are not always the same as God's. One pastor told me the story of one his self-perceived lousiest sermons. "I was just off, he said. "I don't know how else to explain it. I could also tell the congregation wasn't connecting." But there was one young man who connected. The Holy Spirit convicted him. He soon became a follower of Christ, and his wife soon followed. And so did their four children. And so did his father, only two months before he died.
- No one is perfect in the pulpit all the time. OK, your sermon stinks. Join a huge club. There will simply be times you are not at your best. Accept your humanity and move on.
- Congregations tend to be very forgiving. Although you will likely have a few naysayers, the great majority of the congregation loves you. They understand the rigors of your preaching every week. They understand some sermons will be better than others. They will quickly forgive you for the occasional stinker. And they will forget that stinker quickly as well.
- The stinking sermon is an opportunity to improve. Don't just dwell on the negatives of the sermon. Look for opportunities to improve. Ask God to show you how to communicate His Word with greater effectiveness. He will.
- Remember, its not about you; it's about Him. One key reason we are so hard on ourselves is we think too much of ourselves. We worry what others think. We evaluate ourselves according to standards different from God's. We need to realize every day that He is in control. We need to die to self daily. Guess what? God can take our imperfections, even our stinking sermons, and use them for His glory. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Leave the results to Him.
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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