I think it was Phillips Brooks who said something along these lines: He never went to his study and looked in the Bible without seeing his people’s faces running across his study.When he went out to meet his people, his study would beckon and he would see the Bible.
I suppose this could seem frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. If we engage the situation relationally then it can be a more exciting, rather than frustrating experience. We read and study God’s Word to hear Him, we then continue the conversation as we engage with people, our lives intersecting with theirs, our prayer conversation ongoing.
The exciting potential is to bring God’s Word to the people, and to bring the people to God’s Word. And remember, this isn’t about being a life mechanic, a drill sergeant or a success guru. It’s about introducing people, and reintroducing people, to the Word of God who woos us to His Father.
As preachers we live in a tension between people and passages. This need not be a tension, but rather a glorious conversation.