So, last night I didn’t feel like I was at my best delivering the message at our midweek student worship service. There are times when you’re speaking that you just feel like there isn’t that connection with the people with whom you are speaking. That was the way it was for me last night.
I had a hard day yesterday. I dealt with a couple of pretty intense (and strangely similar) issues that I couldn’t get out of my head. My schedule kept me from being able to put the time I would have liked into the message God was giving me. I wasn’t completely feeling well either—just “off” a bit. All of those factors seemed to develop into “the perfect storm” as I began the evening’s message.
We talked about holiness and living life different from the world, particularly in the area of sexuality. That topic certainly should gain some interest of the students. Still, as I stood before them I felt a bit inadequate and like I wasn’t really getting the truth across. I went home a little bummed. Then I remembered some things.
1. The Holy Spirit is the primary communicator—not me.
I often seem to forget that the Holy Spirit is the one who is speaking to hearts when I preach. I tend to think that I’ve done well when the listeners seem to connect with what I’m saying and seem involved in the message. I’m just a vehicle. It’s the Holy Spirit who is communicating God’s Truth. I should never think that I can slack in preparation or use this fact as a cop-out to doing well, but it is reassuring that the Holy Spirit is the one who takes what I say and moves the hearts of people.
2. God promises that his word will always be alive and be active.
God always has a plan each time I speak. I don’t know that plan. I may understand parts of the plan but not all of it. Some of the greatest moments in ministry for me have come as a student or adult comes up and shares something God showed them through his word that I hadn’t really considered when preparing or speaking. I need to learn to rest in these words:
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
– Isaiah 55:10-12 (New Living Translation)
3. Satan loves it when I am discouraged.
This one is pretty huge. Satan wants me to feel like I’m ineffective. He wants to convince me that I’m not being used by God. The problem with this is that God is using me. I am making a difference in lives, but as long as Satan can convince me that I’m not doing much to change the world, he might convince me to give up. He loves to steal my joy. It is my choice whether or not to let him.
4. It’s so not about me.
In the end (and the beginning and everywhere in between) the reason I’m speaking at all is God. I sometimes lose sight of that and crave human feedback and encouragement. I’m still learning that I have to take myself out of the equation. God is dealing with hearts one on one—all the hearts in the room, including mine. I have to do my best to step aside and let God work and not concern myself so much with what people think.
I hope that the next time I have a disappointing night as a communicator, God will quickly remind me of these lessons. I pray that I will continue to pursue excellence and learn to trust God to change lives.