When the Preaching Fire Burns…and When It Goes Out

There’s nothing quite like it, though most people can’t understand it. I share my thoughts about it today because I want churches praying more intentionally and regularly for those who are gifted to do it—that is, to preach His Word. When that calling hits you, everything changes:  

  1. You can’t believe God would call you to preach. It’s genuinely amazing, exciting, and frightening at the same time. Humility is the only right response.  

  1. You’ll preach anywhere, anytime, to anyone. Whether it’s to the preschoolers in Sunday school, struggling adults in nursing homes, non-English speakers on another continent, or the largest church in the area, you’ll preach.  

  1. You see a sermon in every text. You can’t help it—the Bible is your text, and preaching is your calling. It’s even hard to listen to others preach because you’re dissecting the text and critiquing their preaching at the same time.  

  1. Everything’s a potential illustration. It can actually get almost comical, in my opinion. Preachers can see an illustration in a rock.  

  1. You push yourself to learn more and improve. You read books and listen to sermons. You pay attention to podcasts and blog posts. Your thirst for learning is almost unquenchable.   

  1. You can’t wait until Sunday (or whenever you’ll preach next). Your heart pounds. Your mind focuses. Your soul stirs. Your lips practice the words. You’ve got work to do for God’s glory.   

  1. You can put up with a lot as long as you get to preach. Church people may drive you crazy, but Sunday’s just around the corner….   

But, sometimes the preaching fire goes out. Fatigue sets in. Ministry frustrations and disappointments drain you. Things change: 

  1. You wonder if God really called you to preach. After all, the task shouldn’t be this hard if God called you.  

  1. You preach because it’s your job, not because it’s your joy. Your passion to preach to anyone, anywhere is long gone. 

  1. You seldom think about new sermons when you’re reading the biblical text. Often, it’s easier just to repeat or re-work an old sermon.  

  1. The only illustrations you think about are the things you wish you could say in the pulpit. If you could, you’d use the pulpit as a hammer on the hard heads of some believers.   

  1. You haven’t done anything to improve your preaching for years. You’ve settled into mediocrity, not realizing that your congregation probably recognizes that reality.  

  1. You no longer look forward to Sunday. It may not be that you dread the day, but preaching no longer makes your heart beat faster. It’s just something you do.  

  1. You let every little thing in ministry bother you, and your preaching has lost its force. It happens. Preachers consumed by the headaches of ministry lose their fire for the pulpit, even if they themselves don’t fully recognize it.    

Pastors, where are you in these descriptions? How can we best pray for you? Congregation, take time to pray for your preachers today.    


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