“Help Me Preach the Sermon I Need to Hear”

February 28, 2006

Tonight I spoke to some young men who are studying my book Man of Honor, which is based on the character qualities of a godly leader from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Tom Phillips asked me to talk about the chapter based on the requirement that a leader be “able to teach.” I reminded the men that the title for Christ most often used in the gospels is teacher (“Rabbi”). That’s always a surprise, but it reminds us that Christianity is a teaching religion. Our faith is more than a mystical experience. There is specific content to our faith, and that is why the office of teacher in the church ought to be magnified instead of marginalized. “The teacher is more important in the church than the miracle-worker,” I told them. And I’m all in favor of genuine miracles. But you don’t build the church on miracles. You build it on the solid, systematic, accurate, clear, relevant teaching of God’s Word.
A young man from Korea asked me how I united passion and content in my ministry. He said that there are some teachers who are so heavy and dry that you can hardly listen to them. And others are passionate but have little to say. I told him that young men studying for the ministry need to work hard at the content. Teaching the Bible is serious business, and you can’t do it well by playing around at it. It’s not a hobby you pick up on the side. I told him what I heard an esteemed leader say about that. It’s good if young men coming out of seminary seem a bit on the heavy side. Time with people in the local church will take care of that. If you truly give yourself to the needs of your people, you will learn how to connect biblical truth to their daily lives. If men start out light, they will only get lighter. So work on the content in your early years. That’s how the most effective preachers have always done it.
I told them that I still get nervous just before I get up and preach. Better to be nervous than to take it for granted. In the last year or so, I’ve been praying, “Lord, help me to preach the sermon I need to hear.” Somehow that calms my heart. Only God knows what the congregation really needs. If I can hear God’s message to me, it will probably reach the people also.


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