We never turn the preacher switch off. Some snipet of a song reminds of something from our next week’s sermon text. A seemingly unrelated conversation with a friend turns our thinking in a helpful direction as we think about our exposition. We’re always ‘on.’
I am thinking, however, that this might actually only a problem if we have over-professionalized our approach to preaching. If we see our preaching as a function of our employment – a burden we bear to sustain an income, or to service our sense of professional obligation – this always-on approach will make our preaching feel like work and will deaden our ability to know joy in the patterns of our living.
If, on the other hand, preaching is not just what we do, but who we are, we might find that preaching-as-a-way-of-life could actually be life-giving.
I am not saying that as preachers we must always be looking for someone to preach at, or that we derive our sense of identity or worth from the preaching that we do. I am actually calling for a healthier view of preaching altogether.
Preaching is the privilege of sharing life from the perspective of the gospel. It is about constantly and consistently listening for the voice of the Spirit and hearing that voice everywhere and in everything. It is about learning how to process the stuff of life from the prospective of God’s Word, and understanding how all we see and find can be expressed or addressed from a godly perspective.
This is an incredibly fulfilling way to do life. The fact that we will then have the opportunity to share what we have been learning with others in formal and informal ways only deepens the benefit.
This is not always looking to get a sermon. This approach to preaching is a trained way of appropriating life. I have had some of my best sermon ideas come to me while lying on a beach while on vacation, or while picking through the stalls at a farmer’s market. This is not because I am unhealthy or because I am not properly engaged in the practices of rest and sabbath. It is because I am at rest that I am well prepared to hear something profound from God.
Preaching, then, is more than just the precision of particular texts and pericopes. It is bigger than that. Preaching does not live within the pages of a commentary. You have to let your sermon out into the world so it can breathe. Only then will the sermon be fully filled with the inspired breath of God.