This week we have thought about how God’s providence actually works in the lead up to preaching a message. This isn’t the same as looking for direct revelation to supersede Scripture. But neither is it the same as living in a personal bubble, oblivious to God’s Spirit at work in the days before preaching. So we’ve thought about interactions, and pieces of information, and different perspectives. Here’s another one that may be the most common of all:
Unexpected discouragement may be a great blessing – I’m sure you’ve tasted of this experience. You are flying high in the approach to a preaching opportunity. You can’t wait to go give ’em Jesus. Then discouragement strikes. Surely it would have been better to preach in the adrenaline of the “in the zone” moments you had the day before, or earlier that morning? Maybe not. Why not trust God and take it as a divine invitation to lean more fully on God?
There are almost countless examples of this:
a. Criticism – it can be direct and aimed at your ministry, or it can be disconnected but deflating. It is not the false size of an inflated ego that makes good preaching, but dependence on Him.
b. Relational Tension – every preacher / parent knows that children are harder work on Sunday morning than any other day of the week, sometimes their other parent is too! Don’t leave familial tension unresolved to build (sometimes there may only be time for commitment to fix later), but don’t let it wipe you out either. Prayerfully crawl back to the one who understands why relationship matters so much and can hurt so deeply. Perhaps anticipate causes of tension in the home and pre-empt a little too!
c. Sickness – it doesn’t take a terminal diagnosis to knock the stuffing out of our zeal to preach. Colds, sore throats, bugs and ailments. They do seem to like Saturdays and Sunday mornings!
d. Spiritual Warfare – All of the above, and other things too, can be part of the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. But again, remember, even a direct attack of the enemy can be, and should be, a blessing. Our God is greater and our increased lean God-ward should only help our ministry!