Recently I had the opportunity to preach another sermon to my own congregation. It was a blessed experience for me, and an interesting one as well because I had previously preached this sermon in another setting.
Several Sundays ago the pastors’ schedules lined up so that it was a perfect time to give me an opportunity to preach again. I chose Psalm 63 as my text and entitled my sermon “Are You Thirsty For God?” It was fun preparing, especially since much of the exegesis was already done since I wrote and paper/sermon on Psalm 63 my last semester in seminary. So I didn’t get started on preparing anything new until Wednesday the week of my sermon. Several things amazed me about my experience of the process of preparing to preach this time around.
First, I noticed that a sermon can be preached from many different angles by the same person on the same text. I read over my introduction, illustrations, and conclusion for my seminary-prepared sermon and thought they needed to be redone. Just changing those was a lot of extra work, and it had the effect of me preaching a different sermon on the same text (although the main points were identical in my first and second versions of the sermon). I really didn’t expect that.
Second, I had come to expect some fear of failure and “preacher blues” before the sermon. This had become a common experience for me, and I had expected it to happen again—which it did. But surprisingly, it did not spill over into the pulpit this time. Usually it takes me a few minutes to get in the groove of preaching before those feelings of fear and dread subside, but this time as soon as I began preaching the children’s sermon (which immediately precedes the main sermon) I felt at ease and confident. I’m not sure whether it was the case that I was more confident in my preparation, happier with the way I had prepared the introduction, illustrations, and conclusion, the Spirit of God granting me grace as I get a little more experience, or whatever. It’s probably a little of each. But it was a welcome surprise.
Third, I’ve come to expect the Monday blues that preachers are often hit with, but they didn’t come this time. Again, I’m not sure why, but I’m sure glad my emotional state remained steady. It makes for a more pleasant weekend with my family, and I don’t have to fight spiritual doubts about my calling and ability to persevere in my (probable) future duties of frequent preaching.