I asked our readers what was the most important question that they face in their pulpit work. The question asked most was “how do I overcome nervousness.” This was an interesting question. One reason for my own interest in this question is that I always feel a bit of nervousness before commencing to preach. I have heard that many preachers and public speakers face the same issue. Even great preachers have to fight this problem. So what do these preachers do to step over this problem?
One quote that immediately comes to mind is from Mark Twain who said: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” So come with me as I seek to help you deal with this roadblock that need not stop you from preaching the gospel.
The first thing you should do is Pray. If God can raise Jesus from the dead then certainly that same God can help you to work through any of your fear issues. After praying in the beginning, I would also encourage you to keep in a prayerful attitude all the way through the sermon prep and presentation process.
The next thing that One should do to overcome nerves is to Prepare. Preachers should exegete the scripture adequately. They should also exegete the congregation to verify that the real needs of the congregation are addressed. Finally, they must be in tune with the Holy Spirit to ensure that God is behind the whole sermon preparation process. Yes adequate preparation is the first step to overcoming the stifling fear that many preachers will feel.
Secondly, preachers can do to overcome fear in the pulpit is to Practice. This is something that many preachers neglect to do. You have put together your sermon, but you also need to practice “out loud” your sermon. Go over the whole thing. And ensure that you know what you are to do in the sermon.
Finally, preachers can overcome the butterflies by Proceed. Here I mean “go head on and preach.” One thing that I notice in my own preaching is that as soon as I get up to preach, the fear dissipates. As I think about what I am trying to do, I lose the inhibitions that come when you are thinking about yourself. So I would encourage you to get on up and preach and then think about what you are preaching and not your fear.
There you have it, if you wish to beat out fear, pray, prepare, practice, and proceed. Then you will be well on the way to preaching effective sermons.