I didn’t preach last Sunday and I am not preaching this Sunday. So perhaps it is a safe time to write about this danger. On the dashboard of our ministry life we need to have a light that flashes when we are preaching flat. What causes it? What should we do?
Here are some possible causes:
1. Physical Fatigue – driven personalities, parents of young children, stressed church leaders . . . all are in danger of not sleeping enough.
2. Physical Lethargy – bad diet, lack of exercise, high stress levels . . . it is easy to be running on empty, but it is not a good idea.
3. Emotional Drain – perhaps there are issues in the family, or tensions within the church, and be especially wary when you have been on the receiving end of criticism or character assassination . . . a drained emotional tank can lead to preaching flat, or preaching angry – both are dangerous.
4. Relational Strain – if you have a broken relationship with a fellow church leader, a prominent church member, an indiviual in your family, etc., then you may well find your motivation for preaching seeps away. It is like having a crack in your fuel tank – only addressing the crack will enable you to function properly. (Remember Romans 12:18 though, you can only do what you can, sometimes people simply refuse to reconcile.)
5. Spiritual Dryness – lack of real communication in prayer, Bible reading has become data-gathering instead of encounter, a lively relationship has drifted into mere disciplines, unconfessed sin has become normal and dulled your spirit, there are many reasons for spiritual dryness. The problem is that it tends to hide the flashing light on your dashboard. Your flesh doesn’t want to own a spiritual drift, but your ministry requires that you do.
6. Other – there may always be another reason . . . spiritual attack, medical issue, etc.
So what should you do about it? Be honest with yourself and recognize when you are preaching flat. Pray about it honestly. Ask some trusted friends for anything they sense may be an issue in your life. And don’t settle for flat as your new normal. The Gospel, your God and the people in your church need a preacher whose inner fire is being stoked by being with God. The flat version just won’t do.