When you read books on preaching, you often find stunning Big Ideas. Often the ones included are pithy, memorable, poignant, poetic, clever, assonant, etc. Let’s be realistic and recognize that those preachers do not come up with stunning Big Ideas for every sermon (unless they only preach a handful each year). Probably the reason so and so is still using the example of his Big Idea from a 1982 sermon is that he has not come close since! I am in no way criticizing these authors. If I were to publish a sermon outline or idea, I’d want it to be the best I can manage. But let’s not feel pressured by these examples.
When you come up with a stunning Big Idea that absolutely nails the meaning and relevance of the text, then use it (and publish it, etc.) But most weeks you will have to make do with the best you can come up with. An idea that is hopefully accurate to the text, fairly succinct, somewhat memorable, or perhaps just plain clear. These are the sermons that gradually transform lives. They may not make the preaching books, but the fruit of good honest prayerful preaching preparation will last for eternity. Don’t feel intimidated by the “big guns” and their best bullets. Remember that they preach some very average Big Ideas too.
In the time you have, with the skill you have, work on your sermon idea as best you can and then go with what you’ve got. An average message idea is still better than no message idea at all. As long as we don’t settle for average out of laziness or poor preparation, as long as we preach the best we can manage as stewards of the opportunity, then lives will be changed, eternity will be different and God will be pleased.