Each week, before I walk on the platform at Trinity Church, I ask myself a simple but profound question: Why do I preach? Here are at least nine reasons why I keep preaching.
Preaching is hard. Studying the text, finding the big idea, crafting a rational and relevant outline, preparing my heart in prayer, dealing with distractions – my own and things that distract people in the congregation – delivering the message in an interesting manner, and facing the let down, criticisms, complaints, and lack of transformation after messages, are enough to make me ask: “Why in the world do I put myself through this every week?
Why do I prepare a 35-40 minute talk, when I know three-fourths of what I say will fall on bad soil (Matthew 13:18-23). Though preaching can be discouraging at times, I am committed to this blessed burden and sacred trust. Here are a few compelling reasons why I keep preaching the unchanging and powerful word of God.
I preach because God called me to preach.
I preach the Scriptures because God called me to this ministry. At sixteen years old, through prayer, a series of spiritual indicators and markers, and some level of effectiveness and fruitfulness from teaching Sunday school and in other venues, I knew God had set me apart to preach his Word. He overcame my reluctance, helped my weaknesses, authorized my message and confirmed the truth of what I would declare. So, preaching comes from a place of God’s calling on my life. This calling is tested by confirmation from the Holy Spirit, community, and effectiveness. Jeremiah 1:4-5; Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2.
I preach because Jesus came to preach.
I preach because preaching was a significant part of Jesus’ ministry on earth. One of Jesus’ main ministries while on earth was preaching. He preached to the few, and he preached to the many. He preached formally in the synagogues, and he preached informally at a community well. I preach because my Rabbi preached. Because I desire to model my life and ministry after Jesus, I place a high priority on formal and informal preaching. Mark 1:38; Ephesians 2:17.
I preach because Jesus commanded me to preach.
I preach because Jesus commanded his disciples to preach. Jesus commanded his followers to preach what it would look like for God to truly reign and rule in the world and in a person’s life. So, to not preach would have meant they were disobedient to Jesus. We are just as much his disciples today as the early followers. Thus, as his disciples in the 21st Century, Jesus calls us to preach the good news of the kingdom. If we fail to live out this command, we, too, are being disobedient to Jesus’ command. Mark 3:14-15; Mark 16:15; Matthew 10:5-7
I preach because preaching is important in salvation.
I proclaim the Scriptures because God uses formal and informal preaching as a valuable tool in the salvation of humanity. Though many have touted preaching as an ineffective means of communicating the gospel, God, in his sovereign choice, has chosen the foolishness of preaching to draw people to himself. I am not responsible for the result, but I am responsible for discharging my duty to faithfully announce this message of hope. Romans 10:14-15; Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:17; 1Corinthians 1:21
I preach because it was a priority in the early church.
I teach the Scriptures because it was a natural part of the life of the early church. When I make preaching a priority, I am walking in the footsteps of the first apostles and the early church leaders. In Acts 8:1–4, Luke stresses that preaching was not limited to the apostles (Acts 8:1), but all the other believers in Jerusalem who “were scattered” and so “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Since verse three specifically mentions that women were included among the believers who were persecuted, the text does not warrant an interpretation that excludes women from those who fled Jerusalem and “went about preaching the word.”
I preach because it is a trust from God to me.
I declare the Scriptures because God has given me a trust. For those whom God has gifted/graced to preach and teach, we have the awesome responsibility. We must faithfully and reverently discharge our responsibility because not only do we want to please God but also because we will be evaluated with a stricter measurement. James 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:3.
I preach because it is part of my worship of God.
I herald the Scriptures because it is part of my worship of God. Worship is the praise, adoration and, reverence of God, both in public and private. Thus, preaching is a celebration of the worthiness of God, by which I honor his name.
I preach because I love people.
I preach because I love people. All kinds of people – Black, White, Latino, Asian, tall, short, thick and rail thin. Every person that sits and listens to the preacher is an image-bearer. And, God loves them deeply. God loved people so much that he gave his Son (John 3:16). Because God loved and gave, when I stand as a mouthpiece for God, I am called to love the people to whom I preach and to give my all when I preach. If I love preaching more than the people to whom I preach, I should quit preaching.
I preach because it is a joy.
I proclaim the Scriptures because it is a joy to see people encounter God through the Scriptures coming alive through Spirit-empowered proclamation. I can’t help but preach God’s Word. When I want to hold it in, I am like Jeremiah when he said: “But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” (Jeremiah 20:9). The truth is, I can’t help myself. There are times I find myself sermonizing in conversations with my wife, children, and staff. If people will listen, I will preach and teach.
It still amazes me and brings me great joy each time God uses something I said in a message to help people takes steps of faith in their walk with him. In that moment, I am humbled and overjoyed that God would empower and use someone like me to speak on his behalf.
I know preachers are low on the totem pole these days, but I am glad that God called me to be a preacher. Preaching is hard work, and it will not be effective unless the Holy Spirit empowers the preacher. Therefore, pray for the preacher. Pray that God would speak to him/her, through him/her and in spite of him/her. Preaching is a sacred trust from God and has a central place among God’s people and is vital to their life and growth.
Ultimately, I preach to awaken people to full life with Christ, to help them grow in grace, and to equip them for the work of ministry. I preach now, so one-day, other men and woman will preach later.
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