Just a quick post for Pastors, and others that teach the Word, to advance our discussion of how to do it well. I wrote this “fix it before you preach” post some time ago, but I have been seeking to live it this week. In the last seven days, I have had two great conversations with Pastors (no name dropping) with whom I needed to resolve a point of difference. When I hung up the phone we did not agree on everything, but I understood them better and received helpful criticism. On both calls I offered an apology, and on one call I received one. This work is ALWAYS important. Just before I got up to preach at our 9:00 a.m. service this past weekend, I was convicted about someone I haven’t thought about for some time—and realized I should do more in seeking to make that relationship right. I quickly called over one of our Pastors who is familiar with the situation, and confessed to him what the Lord was speaking to my heart. Together we committed to work on that reconciliation in a renewed way. All that to say…I am seeking to live what I, here, commend to you as an absolute prerequisite to powerful preaching that God will bless and use…
Don’t preach if you’re not right with others.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
Don’t preach if you’re not right with God.
Don’t preach if you’re not right with your wife.
Don’t preach if you’re not right with your family.
You say, but I’ve got to preach this weekend! Well then, you’ve got some work to do at home. Fix it before you get behind the pulpit. Don’t open God’s Word before people unless this private piece is right.
Only by God’s grace can I say this, but not one time ever in my ministry have I stood up in the pulpit when I was not in an A+ position with my wife. Ever. This is priority because to do otherwise is detrimental to my marriage and to my own soul. My wife Kathy says that one of the blessings of being in the ministry is that problems cannot linger through the weekend. They must be—will be—have to be resolved.
Early in our marriage we learned to watch out for the enemy and his cruel cunning. As the weekend approaches and we are getting ready to worship, he’ll often drop a little bomb in the middle of our relationship. We’ve learned to stop right there and sort it out. If you endeavor to speak truth to other people while you’re ignoring it in your own life, you’re nurturing a cancer in your spirit. You’re injecting yourself with a poison that will destroy your ministry and your desire to serve the Lord. That’s why this is important enough to include at the top of our list.
It’s also critical to be right with the leaders of your church. We have multiple services every weekend. After our first on Saturday night, while people are exiting the room, all the ministers who were part of the weekend planning duck into a back room and together we put our service through the shredder. Why did we do this? Why was it like that? Through the years I’ve learned to be calm in those meetings, but it’s not uncommon once in a while for the atmosphere to get intense about something we really want to improve.
I care very deeply for these ministry partners, especially our worship leaders. After any heated session, our Worship Pastor will call me, or I’ll call him to ask, “Is everything okay between us?” We know we must pay close attention to this, or we’ll end up on the platform performing for people instead of leading them into God’s presence.
Take this to heart. If a rift in a relationship is allowed to go unchecked anywhere in your life, your ministry effectiveness will unravel like a bad sweater and your heart will become hollow in a hurry. Always resolve everything…now.