It never fails to amaze me. After preaching a sermon that I’m sure is a flop, someone comes up to me and tells me how meaningful it was to them. “This was just what I needed to hear.” (In my mind I’m thinking, were you listening to the same sermon?).
A preacher is often his hardest critic. This happened to me last Saturday night. During my message I was having one of those mental conversations that preachers and public speakers often have … Am I going to fast? This doesn’t seem like a lot material. I bungled that explanation. How much time do I have left? Where’s the exit? All of these conversations are happening in real time.
Then came the lobby and the comments. Two people leaving in tears (and not tears of joy that the sermon was over). Heart-felt remarks. Good questions about how it applied to specific situations in their lives.
After more than twenty years of preaching, I’ve come to these conclusions about effectiveness:
- God is in charge. He knows who will be there.
- God’s word will not return void. If all I preach is my opinion, run for the doors. God’s word is more powerful than my word.
- Preparation matters. The Spirit is at work just as much in preparation as he is in the delivery.
- Most people don’t notice the mistakes you notice.
- In the end, preaching is about transformation and not performance.
Push yourself to be the best you can be … but don’t be so hard on yourself.