While I’m preaching, there are myriads of thoughts racing through my head. Some of which include:
Why is that baby crying? Are they crying because I’m too loud? Or because they didn’t like that joke? Or because it’s too dark? Or too bright? Or…oh wait, it’s because they’re probably tired. Good thing they’re not falling asleep during my sermon like the guy behind them.
Why did he just get up to leave? Bathroom break? Am I going that long? Should I call him out right here and now? Nah…or wait. That might be funny. Or offensive. Probably offensive. But probably funny, too.
Why didn’t she turn her cell phone off? Hmm…I wonder who’s calling her? Wait…is she answering that phone? What’s she whispering? I wish she’d speak up so I can hear what she’s saying.
Uh oh…I’m going to go long with this sermon. Should I cut something out? Or make them sweat if I’ll ever be done?
I may be alone in how much my mind can often wander during a given sermon. But somehow, I think I’m not. And I’m willing to bet that most pastors believe these lies while they’re preaching:
9 Lies Pastors Believe While they’re Preaching
1. Man, this sermon is awesome. In fact, all of my sermons are awesome!
Whoa there, Desperado. You’re not as great as you think. Jump on down from your high horse. Some weeks are good and others are, well, not so good. Accept it.
2. The person shaking their head in affirmation is actually listening.
Sometimes they are. But sometimes they’re just trying to keep from falling asleep. Don’t take it personally. And don’t use that moment to slide in your every-other-week “You shouldn’t stay out late on the night before church” points.
3. Everyone likes me.
Not the guy who stands out in the hallway every week. He doesn’t. Never has. And until you preach a message aimed at engaging him, he probably never will. OR…you could just try to have a normal conversation with him in the hallway. Either way…
4. “Amen!” guy is so zoned in to what I’m saying. It’s like we were cut from the same cloth.
I heard an “Amen!” guy at a church I once attended that “Amen”-ed every single point. He didn’t know when to stop. So he didn’t. I think I even heard him “Amen!”-ing in the parking lot.
5. I can do it all. If only I could clone me…
Stop it. Stop it right there. You’re doing one thing in this moment. You’re preaching. If you’re also slated to do the music for the day, every visitor follow-up throughout the week, and every prayer preceding the pot-lucks, it’s time to share some responsibility. You’re not good at everything. And if you think you are, then that might be one of the reasons your church isn’t growing as quickly as it could. (whoops…did I take that one too far? Sorry…)
6. They’re actually taking notes!
I saw some of our handouts from this Sunday. Doodling. A couple of notes. Then they left it under their seat after the service. Don’t kid yourself.
7. If I say this point with more force, you’re more likely to remember it.
Just keep trying. Use a megaphone if you want. Or, better yet, start yelling from the top of the sermon to the bottom. It’s all important, right? Then do your vocal warm-ups and let ‘em rip. And watch ‘em grab the ear plugs on their way in, too.
8. If I go long, people will love me for it.
Nope. If you go long, people will wonder how long you can actually go. And they’ll also be lamenting the fact that the Methodists are going to beat them to lunch today.
9. If I go short, people will judge me and wonder what I did all week.
Nope. If you go short, they’ll be the ones beating the Methodists to the buffet. And you’ll be their favorite preacher.
Why share this? Why smack pastors in the face a bit?
Because we’re humans, too. We’re prone to thinking too much of ourselves, taking ourselves too seriously, thinking everyone cares about intricate theology as much as we do, and prone to spiraling downwards into self-glorification.
The more we can pursue humility, making less of ourselves and our gifts and our talents and our insights and our winsomeness…and make more of the God who gives us life and breath and everything, the better off we are. And the better off our congregations are, too.
Time to quit believing the lies. Time to preach faithfully the message God’s given us. Time to remind ourselves who the King really is.