Overcoming Nervousness in the Pulpit

Pensive african manI 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.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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11 comments on “Overcoming Nervousness in the Pulpit
  1. Sylvester Warsaw,Jr. says:

    Once again you’ve done well in addressing issues that we as preachers of the gospel face. From my humble position, I, hope and pray that I never lose the fear or butterflies. I want to submit in reverence to God and the leading of His Holy Spirit. Please don’t misunderstand me because I’m not saying to be unprepared, but, what I’m saying is that we are God’s instruments and we must realize that we’re not lecturing but proclaiming the Word of the Living God. There’s nothing worse then being unprepared but equally worse is when we don’t give room for the Spirit of God because we want to make a point. We must remember that the Word of God is alive and living and therefore wants to breathe on us. It’s the foolishness of preaching that saves us and not some academic lecture.

  2. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    I agree with your statement. LOL…if you don’t have any fear then you probably don’t know what you are about to do…

    Please keep commenting…

  3. stephen muchina says:

    am a young university student am born again and loves preaching. i must admit that this site has realy taught me alot i thank God for you i recommend it to all upcoming and experienced preachers.

  4. PASTOR TONY CREDLE says:

    VERY WELL ADDRESSED. I AGREE 100 PERCENT WITH THIS POST. KEEP THE KNOWLEDGE COMING BECAUSE YOU ARE HELPING A LOT OF PEOPLE TO OVERCOME
    SOME ISSUES THAT CAN REALLY HINDER GOOD PREACHING AND TEACHING.
    FEAR AND NERVOUSNESS IS ONE OF THE MAJOR FACTORS THAT HINDERS GOOD
    DELIVERY OF THE MESSAGE. IF THE PREACHER OR TEACHER LOOKS FEARFUL
    AND UNCERTAIN ABOUT THE MESSAGE, THEN THE CONGREGATION WILL BE UNCERTAIN ABOUT WHETHER THEY WANT TO RECEIVE IT OR NOT.
    GOD BLESS YOU PASTOR COX

  5. Chris stokes says:

    Thanks for addressing this issue as I was ask the same question from one of ministers on yesterday.

  6. Mark says:

    Pastor Sherman, I’ve learned so much from your site. I pray that God will bless you in your ministry and that your ministry will grow from glory to glory.

    God Bless you Pastor Sherman

  7. scott osbourn says:

    THANKS FOR THE INSPIRING WORDS. I HEARD ANOTHER PREACHER SAY JUST A FEW WEEKS AGO, NOT TO LOOSE OUR FEARS, TEARS, AND EARS, FOR THE GOSPEL. GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

  8. Bro Charles says:

    Good Afternoon,
    I agree with the answers given, but I have come to understand that the more I preach the more I want to Preach. I look forward to preaching. I may feel different if I had to Preach every Sunday,but right now I don’t. And it is in the MISSING that the JOY remains which takes away the Fear of Preaching. The word says Take the Word into All the Earth, with boldness & strength according to Malachi 2:7

    “For the lips of the Priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction-because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.

    And from this I stand Strong.

    GOD BLESS
    Bro Charles

  9. I feel that Nervousness is a good thing because it shows us that this thing is serious and that people live off of the Wrods that we preach. If we approach the pulpit with preparation, prayer, and practice we should know that the Holy Spirit will do the rest if we allow Him to drive! I have found out what helps me along with prayer is to say the Psalm 23 which lets me know that He is with me so I have nothing to fear if I have done as He has told me to do in the private so in the public all that He has deposited in me will come out flowing like a river for I have spent time with the Word and the Lord. I then find a Hymn that will allow me to get in the flow and then the Spirit takes over! This is how I do it. I know that there are many different ways to ovecome nervousness, but this is the way I find out works for me so you must also find out what works for you! God Bless

  10. Rev. Phil Scott says:

    I feel that the nervous feeling that we have is the knowing that we are preaching God’s word also, it’s being used to bring light to the non-believer. What I found to help me is when I pray I ask God to govern my words and use me the way he wishes to use me. Lastly, keep trying to make eye contact with the people and not on the manuscript. I thank you Elder for this website and the webinars they are a great help…..stay Blessed!

  11. Marcell Thomas says:

    Wow! Everyone had a great response
    I’ve learned something from you all God be praised for
    You. Thank you, +Pastor Marcell T.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
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