After decades of struggling through this here’s my philosophy. Think of preaching like a boxing match for the hearts, souls and minds of your audience. A boxer’s jab doesn’t usually knock someone out, but it does get the attention of their opponent. In the same way, stories (both personal and otherwise) are like a good boxer’s jab. They get and keep the attention of the audience. But the knockout blow is Scripture.
How do I preach? Jab, jab, BOOM!
Get and keep their attention with your stories, but consistently deliver the uppercut of truth right on their chins until the sin and unbiblical thinking is knocked out of them (sorry for the violent illustration but I come from a family of literal fighters and have a book coming out in November called Unlikely Fighter…The Story of How a Fatherless Street Kid Overcame Violence, Chaos and Confusion to Become a Radical Christ Follower)
Plagiarize sermons; don’t give credit.
“Let him that stole steal no more....” Ephesians 4:28
There’s nothing wrong with using other preacher’s sermons and sermon outlines from time to time, just give credit where credit is due. And make sure that you re-exegete the text yourself and make sure their outline is solid and Biblical!
Too many preachers think they have a “Get out of jail free” card when it comes to quotations, sermon outlines and illustrations because they are God’s anointed. But, it’s because we are God’s anointed (all believers are actually God’s anointed according to 1 John 2:20 btw), that we should be doing the right things in the right way.
Plagiarism is stealing.
Steal no more. Give credit where credit is due. When you don’t, you lose Holy Spirit power in your sermons.
Preach your opinions, not God’s.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
My old hillbilly pastor (nicknamed “Yankee” for some reason) used to hold up his Bible and say, “This is God’s truth. Preach it, not your opinions. Opinions are like armpits, everyone’s got them and they all stink. The old opinion that matters is God’s.“