1. Pray – I don’t mean the diligent prayer that should be part of every ministry preparation. Apart from Him we can do nothing. If we are tempted to preach in a prayerless state then there should be warning lights flashing all over our spiritual dashboard. What I mean here is when the sermon preparation so stirs you that you have to stop and pray. All our prayer is technically a response to God’s glorious loving initiative, but I am referring to a soul-stirred immediacy of response. The wonder of the revelation of God’s character in the text; the relevance of the passage to your own heartfelt fears, doubts, concerns or hopes; the privilege of participation in the ministry that overflows from the dynamic unity of the Trinity . . . how often does this stir you to stop and pray?
2. Worship – How easily we can get into the “professional” position of minister seeking to stir worship in the listeners. But we are not in a separate category. The only thing that separates us from our listeners is the extended exposure to the same biblical text. So if we anticipate their response of worship, surely we should take the absence of our response to be concerning. It is a glorious privilege to stop mid-preparation and pour out your praise to God. Pause the prep, not for an incoming email, but to put on the song stirred in your heart and sing it out to God. I think He likes that kind of worship service! With this response comes…
3. Dream – The realities of weekly or regular ministry can wear us all down. The lack of response. The sense that eternity changing pearls from God’s Word have been trampled as fodder for a consumeristic evaluation of the church and pastor’s “performance” – this hurts. But God is able to lift our hearts and invite us to dream of what could be and should be in the lives of those exposed to God’s Word this coming Sunday.
4. Give Thanks – How often do we pray for relief from the stresses and frustrations that come in a preaching ministry, but fail to thank God for the immense privilege of participating in His great work of building the church. Time with God? Give thanks. Joining Jesus in His ministry? Give thanks. Receiving God’s gracious work in your own heart? Give thanks.
5. Weep – I suspect that the most powerful preaching on a Sunday comes out of the study where exegetical notes and the open Bible have been anointed with tears. I don’t weep enough.
And if, like me, this post doesn’t resonate with the reality week by week anywhere near as much as it should, what to do? Back to #1. Pray.