Preaching Myth #2: “I just need to work harder.”

Every pastor has “laid eggs”. It’s a weird phrase that basically means the sermon was a flop (what pastors have against hens, I will never know!). I’ve had my share of laying eggs and if you’ve been a pastor long enough, you’ve had your share too. You know who you are! Every time a sermon ends in a less-than-stellar fashion, our natural instinct tells us that we should’ve worked much harder. Now that may be true: some of us are lazy and I urge you to put more effort into your work. As Howard Hendricks wrote, “Scripture does not yield its fruit to the lazy”.¹ However, in my observation, most pastors believe they just don’t have enough time to craft good sermons. Amidst the hustle and bustle of weekly ministry, where do we even find time to work harder on our sermons? Working harder is not the solution. I believe working smarter is.

The hard-working but not very smart Moses. In Exodus 18, we find a hard-working Moses attempting to resolve every dispute brought to him by the Israelites. From morning until evening, he sits as judge, hears their quarrels, and brings about resolutions. However, he’s wearing himself out and the people are getting frustrated because he’s the only judge and there are plenty of problems. Moses was a hard worker. However, he wasn’t a smart one. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came up with a smart plan to help Moses and the people. He suggested that Moses train capable men to also become judges so that the disputes are divided among them. With the limited time that Moses had, he could either attempt to work even harder by quickly moving from case to case or he could work smarter by multiplying himself through training leaders. Jethro’s solution made sense and Moses decided to work smarter from then on.

I know pastors want to prepare sermons that will have the greatest impact on their congregations. You could opt to work harder by putting more time and effort into crafting better sermons or you could choose to work smarter. Working smarter means discovering the preparation and presentation methods that will make your time more efficient and your sermons more effective. I believe most pastors are simply unaware of the methods available to them. I want to help pastors work smarter with their time—not necessarily harder.

A quick disclaimer. Let me end by saying that this blog is not about to showcase the top 10 quick-fixes to sermon-making. I’m not suggesting that you’ll have an easier time preparing and presenting sermons. Preaching is hard work after all and we shouldn’t be disillusioned by promises of shortcuts. What I am saying is that we can use our time more efficiently by cutting down on what we’re doing wrong and by learning what’s helpful for good communication. In short, I’m suggesting that we focus our hard work on the best methods.

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Next Myth: Preaching Myth #3: “They won’t remember what I say anyway.” | Series: The Preaching Myths

¹Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks, Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007), 33.

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