By Steven Fuller on Mar 29, 2012
Sometimes we have to preach to ourselves before we can preach to others. Here's how one pastor found a firm place to stand.
I’m committed to sharing my battles, because hearing about my battles might help you fight yours. I am ashamed to admit this, but one Sunday I just wanted it to be over. Before church, my heart was not in a good place. I was not looking forward to the worship gathering. In fact, I wanted it to be over.
That puzzled me because I usually don’t feel that way.
So I prayed, searched my heart, and saw the problem: I was not feeling confident about my sermon. No, I need to be more honest. I was feeling fear about my sermon because one section felt weak, and the overall sermon was not clear in my mind. I had worked hard. Prayed hard. Written and re-written and re-written. But still, I felt fear.
In the past I would have told myself, “It will be fine,” “Don’t worry,” or “Just relax.”
So first I set my heart on Psalm 19:7:
The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
That’s what I needed: soul revival. So I prayed and asked the Father, through Jesus, to use His Word to revive my soul. I confessed that I wanted Sunday morning to be over, that I was not trusting Him, and that I was relying too much on myself. Then I thanked Him for His forgiveness, and that He promised to use His Word to change my heart.
Then I prayed through 2 Corinthians 9:8 –
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
I prayed through every phrase, preaching it to myself:
- God is able to make all grace (that’s a lot of grace!)
- Abound to you (abound means overflow—more than I need)
- so that having all sufficiency (that’s a lot of sufficiency!)
- in all things (including preaching)
- at all times (including preaching this morning)
- you may abound (be overflowing, have more than enough)
- in every good work (did I mention that includes preaching this morning?)
Slowly but surely, as I preached this to myself, the Holy Spirit strengthened my faith and changed my heart. Instead of seeing just me and the things that felt weak about my sermon: I saw God. I saw that God would be a constantly flowing fountain of grace giving me everything I needed for this sermon. The more clearly I saw God, the more my soul was revived. I felt peace, and even hopeful anticipation of what He would do.
I no longer wanted the service to be over. I wanted it to begin so I could watch Him work.
And (by His grace alone) He did.