I normally quite enjoy preaching. There’s the simple pleasure of helping understand a bible passage, and showing people the treasure. There’s the joy of leading people home. And there’s the deep delight (‘quite enjoy’ really doesn’t get there) of praising God in his own words.
It’s a privilege, and we preachers love our ministry.
Except sometimes, and for me that sometimes was last week.
The passage I’d chosen was Obadiah (Old Testament, shortest book, judgment on Edom, keep up at the back), and I’d sliced in two; last week, judgment, this week salvation.
Now I’m told by reliable friends that it wasn’t a heavy sermon. I kept it moving, held people’s attention and lead them to Jesus. So, in a sense, job done.
But as a preacher, I felt deeply the weight of preaching judgement, even with a salvation note to close. Judgement is hard, woe is hard, the impact of sin is hard, the wickedness of Edom is hard.
And unusually for me, I wanted to disappear afterwards. I felt as though I’d said all I wanted to say, and I couldn’t process some of the lightweight conversations that I knew I was going to have. I wanted to hide.
Now, I know better than that. So I took myself off to a side room, gave myself a talking to, and shoved myself out the door to ‘get out there and be a pastor.’ Those were the exact words I heard myself think.
But it reminded me, that we are not professional orators, TED talkers, motivational mood changers. We are pastors, and when we have a hard message, and we know the effect it will have, our hearts shift. “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Cor 11:28-29).
Our work is a privilege and an honour. Often it’s a pleasure. But don’t expect it to be fun.
You can listen to the sermon here.