For a pastor’s difficulties in communication, relief does not come so much from practicing speaking exercises (though practicing certainly cannot hurt). Instead, relief comes by remembering that God speaks through the pastor not because he is worthy but because God is merciful. “The Holy Spirit is the one who gets the message across to the people, not the pastor,” Rev. Giese concludes. “Whatever personal fears or idiosyncrasies a pastor might have, the successful communication of the Gospel depends in the end not on him, but upon God.”
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
A Good Reminder
Dr. Gene Veith points out a good article to read here, which uses the Oscar winning move "The King's Speech" to talk about what pastors do when they, "in their stammering way, preach God's Word, the true "King's speech.""
Here's the quote from that article that I want to highlight:
Preaching is hard. I can tell you from first-hand experience that I often struggle saying what I want to say. And there are times when stepping down from the pulpit, I feel like an utter failure. That what I said didn't matter, didn't penetrate, that I didn't communicate at all.
Sometimes that has happened when some visitors have come to our church for the first time. And I think to myself: "Well, they'll never be back!" But then the next week, they are. And I am reminded (whacked over the head, actually) that IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. The Word and Spirit of God is strong, despite my many shortcomings.
Now, that's not an excuse to not try my best, prepare, wrestle with the text, and struggle. All those I must still do. But it is, as the quote above says, a relief to know that it is not up to me. That God has promised to work through His Word even when it is spoken by fallible, sinful men. I need to remember that.
And sometimes, God let's me see that. At times my folks will mention sermons from the past that stuck with them, and I'll think: "That sermon?" But it was what they needed to hear, and the Spirit fed and strengthened them through His Word.
The same things could also be said about the liturgy of the church - the liturgy filled with the Word of God. The solid, steady liturgy is exactly what people need to speak and hear after a week of struggle. I a poor, miserable sinner . . . I forgive you all your sins . . . Lord, have mercy! . . . Glory be to God on high! . . . This is the Word of the Lord . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God . . . This is my Body, this is my Blood . . . Lord, now let your servant depart in peace . . . The Lord bless you and keep you.
Thanks be to God for His powerful, Spirit-filled Word! And for His promise that His Word will not return void, but accomplish that for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11).