Thursday, March 5, 2009

How did this happen?

Through what can only be described as some horrible mistake, a local church has asked me to preach for them this Sunday. It will be the first time I've preached from a pulpit in a few years. Even when I was pastoring, I mostly sat with everyone else, and combined teaching and discussion.

Am I nervous? Not really. For one thing, I haven't had time to be nervous because my work schedule has been so packed that I haven't had time to think about it. But more importantly, my whole attitude on giving talks, or sermons, or whatever, has really changed since I've been out of "full-time Christian ministry."

When I was pastoring, I really felt a burden to make sure that I had a carefully-crafted sermon prepared, and that I delivered it as well as I could (insert your own joke here). I see things a bit differently now.

Not that I don't have a responsibility to put together a good sermon. It's just that I realize that very few people are changed by a once-weekly dose of "3 points and a poem." They certainly aren't changed by "7 steps to a happy marriage" or 4 biblical keys to financial security."

People are changed by one thing: the overwhelming love and grace of God. I think I read somewhere that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance. If that's true, then the more we talk about and live out the kindness of God, the more repentance, the more godliness, we will see.

I guess what I'm saying is that I see my job when I teach or preach is to show how God's grace and love shines through on every page of Scripture. If the folks at that church leave the service on Sunday a little more in love with Jesus, I've done my job. Even if they don't get "5 biblical essentials for perfect, evangelical hair."


For those of you that read to the end, here is your treat. Keep hitting "Refresh" to get the full effect...

4 comments:

Michelle said...

I will say a prayer for you in case you get nervous at the last minute! :)

Richard J said...

Thanks! I need all the prayer I can get. The church will need prayer also--and possibly No-Doze...

Joel B. said...

My prayers are with you also! I trust the Lord will do with this what He wants to do, and it's so cool how your perspective of preaching has changed with the love and grace of God. Certainly takes a lot of the performance-pressure off!

Richard J said...

Joel--Thanks for the prayers! I need them. You are right. The pressure to perform was always nearly overwhelming. I don't get that way anymore. Thank God!