Yesterday I considered the blessing of genuine encouragements received in preaching. The best encouragement of all may not be the comments from others, but the observed life change in those fed by the Word. But I also noted the need to record such encouragements, because there will be times when you encouragements drawer will offer much needed strength in the face of stone cold silence and apparent fruitlessness.
But there is more sweetness to preaching than just seeing lives changed.
If the sweetness is changed lives, then don’t miss the one life that hears every time you preach. I don’t mean your spouse, although any encouragements there are worth so much. I mean you. Every time you or I prepare a sermon we are involved. We go through the times of prayer, the valleys, the highs, the wrestling with the text, the grappling with the big idea, the prayerful cutting of material, the sermon run throughs for an audience of two (the Lord, and yourself).
A lot of this process may be agonizing. Much of it can seem like thankless toil. But there are good times too. Times of sweet fellowship with the Lord. Times of clarity in the exegesis of the text. Times of blessing and encouragement. Sweet times. When these occur, perhaps find a way to mark them just like the thank-you notes we mentioned yesterday. Perhaps an entry in a journal, or a note on your notice board, a visual memorial on a shelf . . . something to remind you of how good it can be, and will be again.
Preaching is agony much of the time, it has to be. But it is a sweet privilege to see God at work in your life, and through you, in the lives of others.