I love preaching God’s Word. But more than that, I just love to hear and experience God’s Word preached whether by myself or another person God has chosen to use. From a very young age, God gifted my life with an intense interest in what His Word says and how it should shape our lives and transform the world. You could say I have my dream job. I pray everyone could be as fortunate.
However, I learned several years ago about the gift of stepping away from what you love to do. It wasn’t easy. I would preach every weekend at Waters Church and then wonder why my love for preaching grew tired. I made an important decision. I started handing off the preaching responsibilities to others and learned the power of regular routine breaks. I share these reasons for my regular preaching breaks so that you might know why they happen and hopefully gain a better appreciation for them. Taking time away from preaching does several important things for our me and the entire church. Here are some of the best reasons:
1. I stay excited about preaching.
When I take a break from preaching I come back fired up to preach. It may surprise you to know that preaching literally can suck the life out of you. Some of my favorite preachers and preaching friends have told me they feel the impulse to quit every Monday. I do as well (though, not EVERY Monday). For this reason, I take time away. When I am away from preaching the hunger God put in my heart at age 13 gets fanned back into flame. I believe one of the greatest problems in the preaching of American churches is a preacher who has lost his hunger and God-given burden to preach the Gospel. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). I want to stay passionate. Regular breaks keep me there and your Pastor stays healthy.
2. Others get opportunities to preach.
It was 10 years ago when the Lord specifically led me to raise up young male leaders in our church. Today we have over 10 well-able preachers as a result. It gives me great joy to see them used of God and transforming their culture through proclaiming Christ. Have you heard of the Pastor who does everything? His people never have to take a risk and try something for God. I do not want that to be the testimony of our church. Some of the young men I ask to preach feel a combination of intense fear and intense anticipation for what could happen. That combination is the golden opportunity for God to do something incredible. There are many weeks when a preacher from our church other than me hits it out of the park and dozens of people respond to the Gospel. THAT is the Kingdom of God at work!
3. Your ears don’t tune me out.
I know this sounds hard to believe, but no matter how great a preacher is, eventually his voice, tenor or manner of speech will become white noise. You need a disruption in the routine of your hearing so that the regular preacher is fresh to you again. This is ultimately about people hearing God’s Word. Jesus chose 12 disciples not one. When He sent them out, He sent them two by two (See Matthew 10), not individually. When the Chruch assigned Apostles to go preach, they sent two at a time (See Acts 13). This is no maverick mission. This is a TEAM effort.
4. Different strokes for different folks.
I will be the first to confess I cannot reach everyone. I know that my personality can get in the way with some people. For that reason, I let other personalities get up there and reach people I could never reach. It has happened many times that a person has been converted through the preaching of a guest and then started to appreciate my preaching afterward. This is GOOD. Now that the heart has been regenerated, the love for God’s Word is in their hearts and it will not matter the personality of the preacher. They will love the power of the Gospel!
5. People learn to hear God speak.
The Scriptures are the source of our encouragement and hope, not any single preacher.
Romans 15:4 (ESV) For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
If you can only listen to a certain preacher, you may have inadvertently developed a tone-deafness to the voice of God through His Word. When you sense a disappointment that your favorite is not preaching, ask God to give you ears to hear what He is saying and not the preacher. There is a skill in hearing from God. Like any skill, it must be developed through disciplines. Disciplines are by nature not beloved activities but they bear precious fruit over time. Our entertainment age has robbed us of the ability to actively listen for theological content in favor of humorous stories or interesting statistics. But stories and statistics have ZERO power to save. The Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16-17). The Gospel must be heard. Learning to hear it rightly produces the fruit of repentance and holy living. For this reason most of all, I take time away from preaching.
With that being said, I look forward to preaching real soon. Hope to see you there!