If you’re a preacher and you’ve preached more than 2 sermons – you’ve at some point experienced that ‘lull’ and emotional valley that sometimes happens after your preach a sermon. A few days ago a few preacher friend of mine and I had conversation about this. I was further inspired to write about it.
While most people are ready to eat after a church service, there are many preachers across the country that immediately begin to mentally evaluate ‘how was the message?’. This mental sparring match that goes on sometimes is quick and painless. And yet other times, it can last for days and be physically and emotionally (and spiritually) draining!
I haven’t met a preacher yet, including myself, that at some point after you’ve preached a message – you’re faced with all kinds of emotions, thoughts, and physical ‘reactions’ to what can happen to people that live in a physical body that wage war in the spirit.
That last point gives us a clue about one aspect of this. Preaching done right, is without a doubt, spiritual warfare. Preaching ought to be – in whatever delivery style- solid teaching of God’s Word. When God’s Word is taught, people that receive it are able to be empowered, encouraged, and life transformation genuinely happens.
If this is the result of good preaching (teaching) – you better believe that satan does not enjoy it one bit.
I know that every preacher has their own rhymthm and “mojo” when it comes to preaching and what they do after preaching, but I’ve spoken to enough people in the past few years that I wanted to offer some real simple and practical things that I do many times after I preach.
Much of what I do, I’ve learned by observing some keys things in 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19 after Elijah accomplished some great things for God.
1. I rest! – Simply put, your body needs some time and space to recharge. I made an observation a few years ago that I sometimes have to repeatedly remind myself of. I’ve even had some to disagree with me, but up until this point…I’ve found it to be true that: “You can never be spiritual strong when you’re physically weak!” This rest may not only include sleep, but sometimes it includes having my attention diverted to non-ministry things. Sometimes this includes settling in to a good movie that has nothing to do with church, sometimes it means playing with my kids, sometimes its picking up a good book, sometimes it may be a date with my wife. Whatever it is, it should recharge your batteries. (I thank God for a wife that on many Sunday afternoons gives me space to do this!)
2. I eat! – I believe this is a part of the recharging process. I’m no scientists, but I’ve read scores of research and I know that its been documented on the physical ‘workout’ that ensues when one preaches. I don’t want to quote anything specific, but I can only imagine the calories that are burned in a 30-40 minute sermon. A good healthy, balanced meal helps replenish the energy that’s released (Notice I said a good, balanced healthy meal).
3. I reflect! – Normally, we preachers can be our own worst critics. There ARE times that we BOMB a message. No doubt! I’m not sugar-coating it or trying to make it sound good. Sometimes we drop the ball. But there are many times that its not as bad as we imagined. The key here is to be honest and forthright. Sometimes, you’ve got to simply say to yourself – you’ll have another opportunity. Not only that (I’m not trying to be too spiritual here), you’ve got to remember that you’re only human, and yet preaching is a spiritual act of worship that must be submitted to God. Which means, there are some results from your message that only God can bring.
4. I Listen! It never, ever hurts you to have people around you that will tell you the truth! I know many preachers who have surrounded themselves with “Yes” people who only rubber stamp anything that they do. This isn’t healthy in the least bit. I think its more healthy for you to have a few people around you who won’t disrespect you, but be willing to tell you the truth. Most of this process requires you to empower people to do that. Sometimes this can be family, sometimes it can be friends, and sometimes it can be parishioners. Whoever it is – make sure they are mature enough – to handle giving positive feedback without having a critical spirit (there’s a difference).
I believe if you employ these aspects for your sermon delivery. It will enable you to further develop your ministry gift and empower you to be further submitted to God. After all, its His gift anyway.
P.S. – If you’re not a preacher and you’re reading this, instead of running so fast on Sundays to get to the chicken, sometimes take a minute and encourage your preacher. Many times, a honest moment of feedback, will go a long with to you getting a better message in the future. (Honest feedback isn’t always a one-liner. Tell them how you’ve applied the Word to your life!)