About ten years ago, I was asked to preach the main message of a Baptist Association meeting. For those not familiar with SBC jargon, the Association meeting gathers the pastors and representatives of all SBC churches within the region. Speaking at the meeting meant I would be preaching to all the area pastors. It was a huge deal and I wanted to be ready.
So I seriously dug into preparing, getting everything in the message spot on. I sweated over it, prayed over it, and preached it to myself so that I would be ready. The message came together and it was good. I was confident it would be just right when the day came to deliver it.
The night came, I got up to preach . . . and I nailed it.
I mean, it was awesome. Even better than I anticipated. And everyone there knew it was good. There was no shortage of spiritual high-fives and pats on the back. I was the preachers’ hero. I could see it. They envied my abilities at proclamation. The invitations to speak would start rolling in. They would have to have me.
One of my preacher friends came up to me. Oh yeah, my first invitation. And so he asked, “What are you doing next Sunday?”
Yep, there it was. I tried to put on my most humble face and tone. I had to handle my new-found fame carefully.
“I’m sorry but I can’t get away from my church on such short notice. I’d love to preach for you but we’ll have to find a better date.”
As I spoke, he had this bewildered look on his face. He wasn’t taking this letdown very well. Oh well, I couldn’t be available all the time!
Finally he replied, “I didn’t want you to come and preach. I just wanted to invite your family over for Sunday lunch.”
CRASH!!! Back to reality.
Preacher guys, if God can use a donkey to speak His truths, don’t get so over-confident when He might choose you from time to time. Whether you preach to 25 or 2500, it’s His Spirit that makes the Word stick. The gift of preaching is an awesome one. But it is a gift.
You are not the message. You are merely a messenger. Preach the Word with all you’ve got. And then get out of the way and let God have the spotlight. It’s His, anyway.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience . . . (Colossians 3:12, ESV)