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preaching article Can I Preach It If I Haven't Mastered It?

Can I Preach It If I Haven't Mastered It?

based on 10 ratings
Feb 21, 2012
Scripture: none
(Suggest Scripture)

I received this email recently. It’s a question I’ve been asked before, so I decided to share my answer here.

Dear Pastor Ron,

Can I, as a pastor, preach about a subject that I know I’m struggling with or know that I’m weak in that area?

Blessings,

Pastor Bob

(Name changed for anonymity.)

Here is my reply:

Dear Pastor Bob,

In my opinion, yes. In fact, you must in order to teach the whole counsel of God.

Consider the issue in simple terms. You preach about sin, right? If you are normal, you still struggle with sin also. You can’t avoid the subject because you haven’t mastered it. In the end, we preach the risen Christ as our only hope anyway.

Here’s another similar question I’ve heard. Can single pastors preach on marriage? Of course, single pastors can and should preach on marriage. Pastors should also preach on parenting even if they aren’t a parent. Again, it’s the whole counsel of God.

The key is you can’t claim expertise and you shouldn’t hide the fact that it’s an area of struggle. People will endear to you more if you are honest anyway. That doesn’t mean you have to share intimate details, but you shouldn’t hide your own frailty. Be honest with people, don’t pretend to be anyone you are not, and preach where God leads you to preach.

God bless,

Ron

The fact is, if I could only preach on that which I have mastered, I wouldn’t preach very much. 

So, how would you answer?

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

Talk about it...

John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
If a preacher is struggling with some issue in his own life, the important thing is to first deal with the matter in the Lord's presence. Peter had to learn this at the end of John's Gospel. The Lord deals with the question in Luke 6;39-42. After Peter had dealt with his own personal allegiance to Christ he could stand up and accuse his fellow Jews of denying Christ (Acts 3:14), the very sin of which he had been guilty. If he had not dealt with his own failing could he have condemned their's so powerfully. Confess your sin in the presence of God, repent, seek the help of the Spirit of God and your ministry will be free from the weakness of unjudged sin and powerful in the proclamation of God's wotrd.
Jeff Strite avatar
Jeff Strite
0 days ago
Thanks Ron, that was a simple but insightful observation
Jeff Strite avatar
Jeff Strite
0 days ago
Thanks Ron, that was a simple but insightful observation
Richard  Hertsel avatar
Richard Hertsel
0 days ago
Great article. I like what John E Miller said also. If we preach on a subject with which we may have spiritual problems with it may help us overcome the issue because of the research we do. However it might not be practical to get married the week before we speak on marriage nor should we convince our spouse we have to matriculate a baby in three weeks so we can speak on parenting. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Marc Heatherington avatar
Marc Heatherington
0 days ago
The question reminded me of Ephesians 3:19, where we are encouraged to "be filled with all the fullness of God." How many could teach this passage from experience and encourage others to aim for high such a high calling?
James Walker avatar
James Walker
0 days ago
I seldom comment on these sorts of things. Everyone has an opinion! However, I do have strong feelings about this particular subject. First of all the question is not about "sin", though I have repented in sermon preparation as God allows me to see myself first of all. The question is about areas of our Christian walk we are not where we want to be. How do we preach the ideals of God's Word when we feel we have not personally attained to those ideals? Frequently I feel called to preached to the "flock" things I know WE all need to hear from God's Word and yet is a personal growth area. For example, God calls pastors to exhort our churches to pray, to evangelize, and to give. Do I need to pray more, evangelize more, and give more? Absolutely! I am quick to tell the congregation when I need to preach about an area in which I feel weak that, "This is one of my personal growth areas. But God has called someone to do the preaching and that is me. Church, we are all fellow-strugglers in the walk of faith and I am not where I want to be in this area." I want my charges to understand that I am also growing and struggling and growing etc. etc. I am more comfortable in my preaching with the "WE and US" than I am with the "I and ME". I am one with the Elders, one with the Deacons, one with the fathers, one with the school students, one with the victorious and one with the defeated. Most would agree that we do not want our churches to place us on pedestals in their estimation of us and yet, we unwittingly elevate ourselves as having attained perfection in the areas we preach. Then we tell them not to place us on pedestals. Sadly, they are pedestals of our own making and this often occurs in our preaching. Do not hesitate to preach the whole Word of God and become a fellow-struggler in those sermons where you have not attained and need personal growth.
Andrew Dixon avatar
Andrew Dixon
0 days ago
Thanks Ron, Great question, however, I would be concerned with any pastor who feels he has mastered any area ... whether it be through schooling or life experience, because neither is the final say so. As was said already we must teach the whole counsel of God, it is not our opinions or experiences that matter, what we are to preach is the word of God, which doesn't require our expertise or experience. Too much of either one in our preaching can lead us down a dangerous path.
Robert Sickler avatar
Robert Sickler
0 days ago
Excellent advice. I have listened to many a preacher eloquently deliver a solid scriptural sermon that was totally sterile. By that I mean the sermon came out of the preacher's head and not his heart. When we preach what we have mastered (?) we lecture down to the people, but when we honestly preach what we struggle with we share the word of God with our brothers and sisters.
John E Miller avatar
John E Miller
0 days ago
Robert Sickler, you listened to many preachers eloquently deliver solid, scriptural sermons that were totally sterile. That statement alone is totally self-contradictory. Then you decided that the sermons preached, and we note there were many, came from the preacher's heads not their hearts. Brother, you are on very thin ice indeed (2.Chron.6:30, Prov.21:2, Luke 16:15, Rom.8:27 etc., etc.). I was under the impression that God alone knows what is in the heart of man. Preaching a solid, scriprural sermon would be an outward indication of a heart that is right with God.
Jun Baday avatar
Jun Baday
0 days ago
If we preach only what we have mastered in life, then we are short-lived. We are called to preach the whole counsel of God, not partly. And we have to do it for a life time and learn in the process. Now if preacher should preach the whole counsel of God and mastered it all, then who is qualified?
Trevor Payton avatar
Trevor Payton
0 days ago
I think brother Sickler was referring to well-researched and polished sermons that lacked a real sense of passion or urgency. As the old puritan writers used to say, we need both light (well-written and insightful sermons) AND heat (passion and urgency) in the pulpit. Light alone tends to come across as flat (even if the truth proclaimed is glorious), and heat alone tends to have little substance and little transformative power. Light and heat...we all need both in increasing measure. This is a good article: honesty and humility go a long way all the time, but especially when preaching areas where we struggle.
Pollie Marabe avatar
Pollie Marabe
0 days ago
Thank you very much for more lessons I've learned from different comments.God Bless you all!

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Thank you.