When it comes to anything in life, whether it is marriage, parenting, leadership, or work. Someone pays the price.
In marriage, you can either pay the price at the beginning, work through all the junk you brought into your marriage. Or, you can pay it later when you are unhappy and married or divorced.
As a single, you can pay the price to stay pure and wait til you get married to have sex. Or, you can pay the price after you get married as you work through what it meant to give your body away before you got married. Or, your spouse will have to deal with that thought.
The same is true for preaching.
Either the pastor pays the price in preparation, studying, praying, planning, reading, listening to God. Or, his church pays the price when they have to listen to him stand up there completely unprepared, unsure of what his big idea is as he wanders through his sermon aimlessly as the nation of Israel did on their way to the Promised Land.
Too many pastors make their church pay the price.
I was talking with a few pastors the other day who told me, “It’s Wednesday, I’ve got a title.” If all you have on Wednesday is a title, you are not paying the price for your sermon.
Paying the price means you plan a preaching calendar, you think through where you are going as a church. You study, you pray through the text asking God to reveal to you what it is about, what your church needs to hear. You read commentaries and other books, you look into the context to better communicate the text.
On Friday night, I lay in bed thinking through my talk and the text for Saturday. At this point in my preparation I almost have the text I’m preaching on memorized and have thought through the ins and outs. I am now thinking more about who will be there, how I will communicate it. I begin praying for those I think of and those who I don’t know, those who are coming to Revolution as a last ditch effort on God. This is the weight of preaching. If you do not feel this, I don’t think you should preach. Why? When you stand up to preach, you are literally reaching into hell and pulling people who are on the path to hell (Matthew 7:13 – 14). I realize that is a paraphrase, but that is the spiritual battle of preaching. That is what’s at stake.
Saturday night I lay awake worrying if I said everything I should’ve said. Did God want me to say something else? Was I clear? I pray for those who made decisions, whether to get baptized, start following Jesus, or any number of next steps we talk through on a Saturday night. I pray for the spiritual protection of those who made decisions. I know that night will be a very difficult night as Satan and his angels will be going to work on those individuals.
Pastors, do you pray for those who are coming and for those who make decisions? This is the price of preaching. This is the price of pastoring.
If you are not willing to pay it, then do something else. Lives are at stake. Souls are at stake. Marriages are at stake. Families are at stake. Eternities are at stake.
Pay the price.