Too often the pulpit is a place where someone gets something off his chest or makes a tawdry effort for crowd adulation. Half-baked ideas, pet peeves, cute philosophies, or political diatribe might find an occasional place at the dinner table, but never belong behind the pulpit. Proclaiming truth is a sacred trust and must be exercised with extreme caution.
Ask yourself these three questions: Who am I preaching for? Who am I preaching to? Who am I preaching with? (And if you’re a Grammar Nazi, you can reposition those prepositions accordingly.)
Believe it or not, your answer to these three questions will determine much about what you say and how you say it.
Who are you preaching for?
Preach for an audience of one. We do what we do for the Lord. All of us. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Regardless of your life’s vocation, each of us ultimately serves the Lord. Such a thought ennobles literally all that we do!
Here’s the rub. We all knowthis, but somehow practically forget it. Without this revitalizing perspective, drudgery often sets in. Or mediocrity. Or, even worse, success. Let me explain.
Faulty is any definition of success that excludes a fastidious obedience to God and a passionate desire for His glory. How quickly our lives can become an embodiment of this faulty definition!
Especially us preachers.
Vocational ministry is at once a wonderful opportunity for service to God and a dangerous temptation for pride in that service. Like most people, we preachers want to be liked. Who doesn’t? And sometimes that desire can trump our willingness to preach unpalatable subjects. Instead of preaching for an audience of one (God), we preach for a chorus of “Amen’s” or for comments like, “Great message!”
Preaching for an audience of one provides the accountability for what I say and why I say it. In other words, my message better be His and my motive better be right! Preaching for an audience of one incentivizes me to preach with both courage and conviction.
Perhaps most importantly, preaching for an audience of one reminds me of my simplicity of purpose—to please Him.
**Part One of Three**