One of the challenges of a regular preaching ministry is finding opportunity to listen to others. There are ways to make it happen though – give your pulpit to someone else sometimes, create a preaching team if your church doesn’t have one, listen to sermons online, listen to Christian radio at the right time if you have the option to do so, attend a conference periodically. Listening to others is worth the effort for several reasons:
You are a part of the body of Christ too. It would be inconsistent to believe strongly in the need for believers to hear the Word preached, but separate yourself from that category! Of course you learn in your study and often preparing and preaching a sermon makes far more impact than merely hearing it. But the nature of the body of Christ indicates that you need to receive from the gifting of others, for they are gifted to build you up.
Different preaching can stimulate freshness in yours. A different way of structuring the message. A creative introduction. An exemplary use of words. A different style of illustration. I’m not suggesting you listen to sermons only to pack your bag with goodies like a petty thief in a rich mansion (although Haddon Robinson does say “if you are going to steal from sermons, then go to a rich neighborhood”) I am not suggesting you listen in order to emulate their preaching. I am suggesting that listening can stimulate your preaching.
Hearing good and bad preaching can be highly motivating. Hearing good preaching is motivating. It is a delight to hear an expositor doing it well! But also hearing poor preaching is motivating. For instance, last spring I attended a three-day preaching congress. Preacher after preacher. Big names. From big churches. Several were absolutely excellent. Very motivating. Others were surprisingly or even shockingly poor. Very motivating. I came away charged up to be the best expository preacher I can be. It is easy to start assuming everyone is handling the text as best they can and preaching expository sermons. They’re not. And when you are reminded of that, at a conference, or reading sermons online, you may find your engines fired to press on!