Every minister has questions. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Some are sparked by pure curiosity:
- Why does every stereotypical ‘traditional’ church have the exact
same portrait of Jesus?
- Why did they choose this color for the carpet?
- What will happen if I ‘forget’ to wear a tie on Sunday? (if you preach at a church where you don’t have to wear a tie on Sunday, congratulations, you are closer to the promised land than I am).
Other questions are more practical in nature:
- What’s the proper procedure for draining the baptistry? (if you answered wait for a deacon to do it, you are correct!)
- Where is the travel communion set? (seriously, it’s in a different place every other week)
- How do I get the sound system to stop making that annoying buzzing sound?
- Why isn’t there ever enough volunteers for children’s church (AKA Pediatric Purgatory)?
But most of the questions preachers have are laced with a bit of fear and self-doubt:
- Did I say this ‘just right’?
- Am I effectively communicating?
- Am I confident or prideful?
- Am I an engaging preacher or am I just another entertainer?
- What if I mess everything up? (if the church is doing well)
- What am I messing up? (if the church is not doing well)
- What will happen if people realize I am just as messed up as they are?
The fact is, even the best preachers go through periods of doubt and lack of self-confidence. I have found that the two best ways to overcome this are (1) Spend lots of time with God. Most preachers who are good at what they do spend at least 50-60 hours a week doing ministry. When you add family obligations on top of that what you get is a busy, busy man. In all that busyness, it can become easy to let personal time with God through prayer, meditation and God’s Word slip into the role of a forgotten habit. It has been my experience that the less time I spend with God the more discouraged I become over an extended period of time. (2) Spend time with other preachers. Can I be honest? We don’t do this well enough. One conference a year isn’t enough to fuel the fire for the other 51 weeks of the year. I meet weekly with a fellow preacher during the months our kids are in school. I look forward to that time, because I get to share in his victories and struggles just as he shares in mine. We even bring our wives along so that they can be encouraged too (although they will tell you they come to supervise us!). During the summer months, when we don’t meet, I realize just how much I am energized by that weekly prayer meeting, and how much I miss it. God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. That goes for preachers too! It is vital that we network and bear one another up. Ministry is hard. As a preacher it is vital that we take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen ourselves for the task laid before us.
Now for one more question: What can you do to encourage your minister (or fellow ministers as the case may be)?