The pastor of our church will be out of town for the next couple of Sundays. So, I have been asked to preach. Preaching can be a challenging task. Having to study the text, interpret it and then try to find ways of helping the congregation to apply it to their lives can get overwhelming.
I have felt this burden before, but it has been particularly poignant this week. As I have done my work to prepare, I have been confronted with some difficult choices to make. I have never shied away from saying what I believed needed to be said, and I will not begin today. What I have felt in a new and more direct way is that weight of this responsibility.
If you are a pastor charged with the teaching and preaching ministry of your congregation, I want to encourage you. You are not alone in your struggle to speak forth from the Word of God. It can be a daunting task to stand in front of your congregation and declare, “thus saith the Lord.” However, you cannot abdicate this responsibility to anyone else. You are the one who has been called and you are the one who responded in the affirmative.
I would also like to say a word to the listener of these messages. I know that there are those who do not take the preaching ministry as seriously as they should. I know that there are sermons that should never be preached. In spite of this there are many pastors who do take their charge to preach seriously. They recognize the great responsibility to not speak their own words, but to speak words that reflect the heart and character of God. If you are a member of church who has a pastor that takes great care and effort in preparing to preach; who does not take the prophetic role of their ministry lightly; who stands in the pulpit every Sunday after spending time with God through the week; if this is your pastor pray for them.
They need your prayers because sometimes there is a sermon that needs to preached that they simply do not want to preach. They recognize how difficult it will be to get it right. They feel the weight of the message because they have labored with the text and the God of the text. They understand that they may be misunderstood and that in the process some may start thinking differently about God.
These are just some of the many challenges that every preacher deals with on a regular basis. Pray for your pastor today. Pray for them often because you never know when they will be working on a sermon where they are fighting against the temptation to give in to the thought, “I just don’t want to preach this.”