How can you preach when you don’t feel like preaching? Someone asked that question a while ago. And this is a very interesting question. Let me first of all say that you don’t have to preach every week. In the vast majority of churches, there is at least one other person who could preach. If you allowed someone else to preach in the pulpit God has entrusted to you every so often, it would do a lot toward rejuvenating your energies. You can even train your associates in this very important preaching ministry. I am not saying that you should allow people in the pulpit who are not ready or who don’t know what to do, but perhaps you can begin training them.
In addition, you you can find other preachers to preach at times. If not in your congregation, there are literally scores of preachers in every city who would love to go preach for you. Talk to other ministers about their new hot-shot associate or about the elderly retired minister who is in her congregation. You can always find others to help you in your preaching ministry. Often there are people out there who would just love to preach for you.
But I don’t want to sidestep the question. How do you preach when you don’t feel like it? In short, the answer is to just preach. Preach on in your pain. Preach on through your pain. Often your pain can open up avenues in the scripture that you would not be able to see if you were feeling just fine. Andre Crouch sang: “If I didn’t have a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them.” In addition, if the prophet Habakkuk didn’t get mad at God we wouldn’t have the book of Habakkuk. So just like Habakkuk wrote on and just like Andre sang on, I would encourage you to preach on.
Don’t Ignore Your Pain
As you preach, you should not attempt to ignore your pain while preaching or preparing. It is always important to be genuine. You may not connect with certain texts that you normally connect with. This time of pain might be a time of discovery and hope in the midst of hopelessness. It is easy to talk about God hooking you up when all is well, but when you’re in the midst of something … you gotta be more real … more connected to your congregation’s pain … more connected to humanity’s pain. Hurt can be a gift to you as a preacher.
Finally, recognize that you are preaching for the help of the whole congregation and not just for yourself alone. While you shouldn’t ignore yourself, you must not only preach for or to yourself either. It is a balancing act, but you must ever realize that you are preaching to a congregation that needs a word. When you are in pain, that word may be a future-oriented hope. Meaning that it is not today that I am feeling good, but it is a future hope. Like the old song says, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.”
Or perhaps it is not an overt hope but one that comes from the other side of the articulation of pain. Like the slaves who sang: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” You can’t learn about how good God’s gift is until you fully understand your present position apart from God. Whatever it is, send them home with a real … valid … Word.
Let me also add, when you get past this time of pain, and you will, don’t forget to look back at it. Look back at it and let your new vantage point from the other side of your pain guide you in your future preaching!!!