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The other week I preached a sermon that I thought made perfect sense to me. I had worked on it all week. Explained my points to multiple people. Prayed about it extensively.

But it just didn’t seem to connect like I wanted it to. I went home that night and began replaying it in my mind. What I could have done differently. A different outline I could have used. Was it practical enough? Clear enough?

Self-evaluation is an invaluable tool. But if you do it long enough, you can start to feel like, “Man, am I even a good preacher anymore? Have I used up all my good stuff? Is there something wrong with my relationship with God? Am I out of His favor?”

And all these thoughts can take you down to a place where you’re so busy thinking about your past performance that you’re incapable of facing your future opportunities.

Sometimes it’s good to review. Especially if the shortcomings of one performance are just the latest in a series of systemic failures.

But a lot of times, the best thing you can do is move on. Get back to work and start writing your next sermon.

Or if you’re in another line of work, get back to doing whatever it is you do. If you’re a teacher and your lesson bombed on Friday, God’s favor has not abandoned you. He has still called you to teach. Go back today and get back to teaching. If you’re a parent and you blew it this weekend and yelled at your kids for no reason, God’s favor has not abandoned you. He still wants to equip you to raise children who will change the world. Apologize and get back to parenting.

In the famous encounter between God and Elijah on Mt. Horeb, most people never make it past the observation that God spoke to him in a gentle whisper. But there is more to the story. The gentle whisper actually said something: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Not exactly the profound piece of encouragement you’re expecting. But it’s exactly what Elijah needed. He had run away from Jezebel out of fear and come to the conclusion that it was all over. The prophets of God, including himself, were finished. Elijah probably wanted more than a simple question about why he had run away after an apparent defeat. But all that God whispered was all that he really needed: You’re alive. Now get back to doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

There is a place for evaluation. But the best thing you can do sometimes when you’re feeling down about your past performance is to live to do it another day. Get started on your next thing. Sometimes that’s your best remedy.

If you feel your efforts have come up short lately, write another sermon. Make a new presentation. Reach out to your wife and children in new ways.

Whatever you do, let’s all get back to work.

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America. 

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the ChatterboxGreater, and Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia

commented on Jun 23, 2014

As a Lay preacher I find that I want to do the best I can to lead any service I am asked to take. Sometimes I feel as though I have failed the Lord in not doing my best and that I have let Him down. Then a member of the congregation will come up to me afterwards and tell me that I spoke to them. Praise God! But what does that say about my other messages which I think are as He wants it? We fall down when we make a mistake. Failure is NOT getting up and going on in God's grace.

Brad Brought

commented on Jun 23, 2014

GREAT REMINDER! Thank you Steve!

Rev. Dr. Theophilus Lambo

commented on Jun 23, 2014

Thanks Steven for sharing your experience. I am presently ministering in a small non-denominational church planted 8years ago. It is rather disturbing to note that the church has been suffering series of avoidable crisis which are affecting the growth of membership. I know find myself in a situation how to motivate the already disenchanted members who have lost complete interest both in the leadership and our sermons. I spend a lot of time preparing my messages and it's always like nightmare going to deliver God's message to them as I was spiritually directed. I do pray a lot but it takes courage and burnt energy to accomplish my tasks which are not supposed to be so. Unfortunately, it is affecting my spirit and zeal for evangelism.

Anthony Haywood

commented on Jun 23, 2014

Praise the Lord my brother to GOD be the glory. You are not alone for such a time as this, therefore I ask that you do not lose heart... For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might thru His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your heart thru faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend... to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of GOD. Eph 3:13-19 Be encouraged.

Dav Ross

commented on Jun 25, 2014

Good on you Anthony. I too pray for our brother to experience relief from his season of discouragement and breakthrough in this battle.

Moses Brown

commented on Jun 23, 2014

God does not ask us to do in our own strength the work before us. He has provided divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal.

Moses Brown

commented on Jun 23, 2014

God does not ask us to do in our own strength the work before us. He has provided divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal.

Fred Jacoby

commented on Jun 23, 2014

I heard an interview once with Nick Foles, QB of the Philadelphia Eagles. He mentioned that he has a 24-hr rule. The first 24 hours after the game is a time for reflection and or celebration. After that, it's time to focus on the next game and leave the past game behind. Similar points to the article. Reflect, review, and live by grace onto the next message.

Keith B

commented on Jun 24, 2014

If anyone would know about the after effects of a bad sermon, it's Furtick.

Dav Ross

commented on Jun 24, 2014

Comments like this should be dealt with by the admins. Vitriol and hate has no place on this site.

Keith B

commented on Jun 24, 2014

Don't be so fragile. Furtick is known for having the uncanny ability to make any passage in the Bible be about him. He wouldn't be able to preach a "good" sermon if John MacArthur gave him his sermon notes.

Dav Ross

commented on Jun 24, 2014

I don't much like MacArthur, but I don't sledge the man or his ministry. I come on this site to be blessed, not to participate in sledging. I stand by my comment above.

Keith B

commented on Jun 24, 2014

You should be more tolerant.

Dr T. Edward

commented on Jun 25, 2014

Begs the question, who are you and what have you done? Exactly. Be careful when you comment negatively it may reveal who you are more then your subject.

Keith B

commented on Jun 25, 2014

I'm just a pastor of a small town church. But I preach the Bible week in and week out--in context, and I put the focus on Jesus. That's something Furtick does not do.

Dav Ross

commented on Jun 25, 2014

Keith, I went to your target's site, listened to 2 sermons, heard a lot about Jesus, and was blessed. I'm a small church pastor, and I come on here to be blessed. How about you put some of your sermons up so I can be blessed through your teaching too?

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