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I have a personal principle on this issue. If I genuinely have had to prepare at the last minute, then I ask God for help and know that He understands. But then there is a second part to it, too—if I have procrastinated and end up preparing at the last minute, then I confess that, ask for forgiveness and still ask God for help.

The first part of the principle has been forged in the relatively gentle furnace of family life and missions organization participation! Sometimes life happens and there is no way to prepare as you would like. God understands this. Last minute preparation is not ideal, but it is possible, and it is still better to prepare as much as you can, rather than not prepare at all.

The second part of the principle is there because I am human. I admire people with perfect track records in the area of self-discipline (but I also doubt them!). Rather than make up excuses and try to convince myself that I genuinely could not prepare fully due to life circumstances, I would rather be honest and admit when I have allowed other things, often very good things, to distract me from what was needed as a ministry deadline loomed. I may have lacked self-discipline, I may even have succumbed to some tempting distraction, but I don’t want to succumb to another temptation and seek to justify my procrastination. Hence, I sometimes have to repent and ask for forgiveness and then prepare at the last minute.

May we all be Holy Spirit disciplined in our preparation for ministry and maximize every opportunity to preach the Word. But may we also accept the reality of the grace we preach to others when we sometimes fail to prepare as we should—not an abuser of grace nor a rejecter of grace!

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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Steve Birch

commented on Jun 21, 2014

Excellent instruction we all could stand to remember and apply. I especially like how you fall back on God's grace at the close. Again we need to be reminded that He is indeed the God of all grace . . . He is bigger than any of my shortcomings, failure, ore mistakes. Where hectic schedules or sin abounds, His grace abounds much more. Thanks again for the reminder.

Hall Hunt

commented on Jun 21, 2014

Thank God I'm not the only one: to procrastinate...or let other areas of ministry crowd out prep time! And thank God I'm not the only one that calls out to God for forgiveness and knows God's grace and power to still use it!

Jared D

commented on Jun 21, 2014

So... what if this article WAS the distraction? Haha... ha.

Tony Bland

commented on Jun 21, 2014

Funny you should say that ? it is Saturday night 10:42 pm and I am ?prepping? and decided to check my email and read a few post here? now I need to beg the Lord to forgive me again?. I good preacher friend of mine say I thought all I had to do was pray and show up in the morning and the Lord would speak to him, so he did? and the Lord did. The Lord said ?you should have study H.B.?

Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia

commented on Jun 22, 2014

Let me tell you I am petrified in case I am called upon at the last moment to prepare a sermon. As Lay Preachers we are only as good as the last message we present and I thank God continuously for the grace he showers upon me to enable me to get it right. I did not like what I did this morning but two members of the congregation came up to me afterwards to say how well my message was received. Praise be to God. He does indeed work in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

Mitchell Leonard

commented on Jun 22, 2014

Great article. Thank you for putting this out there and thank you for your honesty.

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