Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his excellent book “Preaching and Preachers” explains that sermons are like horses, sometimes they will buck you off.
I know ts is true because mine most definitely bucked me off Sunday night.
The problem wasn’t my content, the delivery of that content was poor though. The message itself just didn’t connect with the people. I failed to keep their attention, and it resulted in a pretty discouraging experience.
Satan loves Sundays like that because it gives him the opportunity to become discouraged or angry, and wallow in self-pity. Sadly a Sunday like that can end up affecting your mindset for the rest of the week.
This is sinful because poor sermons are tools of God just like the excellent ones, maybe even more so! But this can only happen when allow the Lord to use them.
With that in mind, here are some Biblical responses to a poor sermon on Monday morning (after a good nights sleep of course).
I Dropped the Ball: The thing about a poor sermon is you must call it what it is, and put the blame where it belongs. This step not only admits the failure, but examines it. For instance Sunday night I got away from my normal form of preaching (exegetical) and it affected my delivery. I also spent too much time working on the flow of the message (alliteration) and not enough on the application itself.
Another part of taking the blame is putting safeguards in place that keep the same mistake from happening again. For instance, I am working on using one larger passage of Scripture as my foundation instead of a number of different passages. The focus for future messages will be on more contextualization and application as well as exhortation.
I have not Failed: Its amazing how God can use our weakest moments for His own glory. My message which felt like a “dud” to me may have been used by the Holy Spirit to convict or challenge an individual. Even if this did not happen, God has promised He will use His word.
Everyone in the ministry has dropped the ball in one way or another and heard Satan telling them that they have failed. In situations like this, its important to remember how God defines success. Success in the eyes of God isn’t based upon achievement, but faithful obedience. Of course the Lord desires for us to serve Him with excellence. Yet if you did the will of God, He was glorified, even if your application was poor.
I Will do Better: Having the proper view of my poor sermon gives me courage and confidence to do better in the power of the Holy Spirit. This means creating habits that emphasize my two changes (use larger passages of Scripture, and focus on contextualization with application)
- Get a working outline in my mind by Monday night
- Write that outline down in a notebook and carry it around with me to make notations
- And take spare moments to think through the outline
My point is there is hope for the preacher who dropped the ball on Sunday night, and every Christian who drops the ball in their daily lives.
Get some sleep
Drink some strong coffee
and get back on the horse