A pastor of only 2 months, recently wrote me with this question, troubled by what he called a passionate plea to honor Christ while preaching that he fears came off like an “angry rant.” Since the question for each of us pastors is not “if” but “when” we will fail in the pulpit preaching, I thought I might share my response to him with you:
Fear not, dear brother. This will be the first of many times where you will feel you have failed in the pulpit in one way or another. You cannot go back and fix what has been done. Your preaching ministry will not be judged on one sermon, but how you consistently preach week in and week out for the next 10-20 years. Heed your wife’s counsel and suggestions to make improvements and pray the Lord forms in you the preacher he desires. Remember, brother you are far from where you should find yourself in 10 years as a preacher and pastor. Keep trying to find the balance of passion, yet appropriate tone for the moment. Labor hard in these things, listen to your wife and others, and keep preaching!
One rant will not ruin your ministry. 100 rants that do not communicate well in the next couple of years might. One last thing, the grace and charity you are asking of your congregation as you learn to preach needs to be remembered when you get frustrated with them, as you will, so that you extend the same grace. The longer I pastor, the more I noticed their graciousness to me over the years and noticed less my graciousness to them.
Fellow pastors, as we prepare this week, remember…we will fail. We are broken sinners saved only by the grace of God in Christ. We are not perfect, but the power of God is such that we can consistently, week after week, be used as an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands to instruct and exhort his word in the gospel. Do not lose heart. Keep preaching. Cling to the one we passionately proclaim every Lord’s Day. Trust God will do the work and sow on good soil the seeds sown in the hearts of our people.