Part four of this series on application . . .
13. Be servant-hearted, not the model of perfection. It is so easy to come across as if you have already been mastered by and have already mastered the text. It isn’t about understanding. Be better at that every time you preach. But it is about whether you stand with the listeners as one who is also receiving from God’s Word, or are you just a dispenser of instruction, always? The servant-hearted part comes in when we realize our task is to serve others, not to impress them. Look to equip and enthuse, don’t look to show off so they feel obligated to you.
14. Be accountable to the text, not a red phone to heaven. Sometimes preachers come across as having a unique and Moses-like access to God. They seem to have spent the week face to face with the angel of the presence of the Lord, but it doesn’t stir the heart like Moses might have. Somehow it can instead be a bit intimidating. A bit of a spiritual superiority vibe that leaves others feeling spiritually inadequate. Don’t couch everything in terms of direct revelation if you actually prayerfully considered what to say and this felt right. That is very different than the red phone flashing on your desk and Gabriel passing on a direct message. Let your authority come from the Bible well-handled, rather than from an implied super-spirituality that may over-imply in places.
15. Be willing to describe the application. Don’t just preach truths and then leave them hanging in the air for people to grab and apply personally. They won’t. They will affirm you, but they won’t be touched themselves. Instead seek to spell out the difference this biblical truth might make in a life. They will translate that application to their own situation, but only after they see that you are offering more than just a nice spiritual thought.
16. Be specifically descriptive in applications. As you describe what it might look like to live in light of the passage, be specific. What does the truth of the Incarnation mean when I am struggling with my boss’s attitude tomorrow at work? What does it look like to trust God’s providence when everything seems to be conspiring against my marriage? What would be different if the peace of God gripped the ethos of our church with its grapevines and back-biting festivals?