The Preacher’s Dilemma – Preparation or Trust


Gardner Taylor writes:

The heart of the preacher’s dilemma is how to trust God wholly and at the same time to prepare diligently…Most of us discover that sermons are born of a mysterious romance between preparation and inspiration.

I was talking to a fellow preacher a year or so ago about sermons. The preacher noted that often the greatest sermons take the least bit of time. Some sermons take hours and hours, but can’t quite measure up to some sermons that are delivered soon after their birth.

You Need Trust and Preparation

Immediately I recognized that the preacher was downgrading preparation at the expense of uplifting inspiration. What is forgotten in these times is that those hours spent on sermons that are not used or are not seen as “effective” are not wasted time. It is time that has taught you something. It has taught you a little something about preparation. It has informed your theology in some way. It has strengthened or weakened something in your. In short, those hours spent struggling with the text was preparation for your sermon that seemingly rolled out of your Bible with little effort on your part. If it weren’t for the valleys, you wouldn’t be in a position to experience the mountains.

My advice to fellow preachers is in line with Taylor’s advice. I would say: “Prepare like it all depends on you and at the same time trust as if it all depends on the Spirit.” You will hit home runs sometimes. Other times you will hit singles, but practice diligently knowing that if you hadn’t worked so hard neither the singles nor the home runs would be possible.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

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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