Yesterday I made a passing comment about inadequacy in preaching. We all feel inadequate in some area. Perhaps it relates to our lack of training. Or our lack of understanding the many elements of the expository preaching process. Or perhaps we feel lightweight in the arena of theology. Or maybe our delivery lacks that certain something. Or maybe we feel inadequate in the area of pastoral awareness and connection with our listeners. The list could go on. Here are some thoughts on this matter:
1. Feelings of inadequacy are appropriate. As I wrote the other day, we are out of our depth. We should be feeling inadequate as we handle God’s Word, as we prepare to present the Word of God to people who need it so desperately, as we participate in a ministry with such eternal ramifications. Inadequacy should be the name of the game on one level.
2. Feelings of inadequacy should not be avoided. There are ways to hide from our feelings of inadequacy. For instance, rationalizing approaches that circumvent our areas of weakness. One example was presented yesterday – just waiting on God to give us what to say rather than facing the challenge of studying the text to see what God has said there. We naturally find ways to avoid inadequacy and protect ourselves. This is not a faith approach.
3. Feelings of inadequacy should not undermine faith. When we stand to preach, we stand in faith. We have to trust God. We have to trust in His Word. We have to trust in the power of His Spirit. So feelings of inadequacy may be a prompt to doubt, which we should address by prayer-fueled faith.
4. Feelings of inadequacy might be a prompt to faith-filled action. I deliberately didn’t put this first, but it does belong on the list. That is to say, perhaps our feelings of inadequacy should prompt us to prayerfully strengthen in those areas of weakness. Is it time to take a course of study, attend a training day, read a book, work through a systematic theology text or whatever? We should not try to strengthen weakness as a means of fleshly self-reliance, but rather as good stewards of the ministry God has entrusted to us. Let us prove to be faithful stewards, rather than fearful stewards.
Feelings of inadequacy – not all good, not all bad, not the end of the story.