I am a preacher, have been for a bit over 20 years. Counting weddings and funerals, I’m probably approaching 1000 preaching events. That doesn’t even include the times that one of my kids said, “Dad stop preaching at me!”
I love preaching, but it’s not always an easy task. Sometimes preaching is a difficult task. “What’s difficult about preaching?” you might ask. Well… sometimes it’s difficult coming up with new ideas for a new sermon series. Finding good stories and sharing good stories, sometimes that’s difficult. You don’t always know how people are responding, you just have to preach and have faith that God is at work. I find that it’s often difficult to keep that balance between working hard at crafting a sermon and relying on the Holy Spirit for something good to happen. And of course the most difficult thing is when people don’t laugh at my jokes! :)
This past week, Matt Woodley (the editor of a preaching journal I receive) asked Archbishop Ben Kwashi (a Christian leader from Nigeria) about the preaching challenges in his country. He mentioned typical stuff we all face—helping our people grow as disciples, learning the craft of preaching, relying on the Spirit, preparing solid expository sermons. But then he mentioned one difficulty that Matt didn’t expect…and I rarely consider. He said,
“Our preachers in Nigeria, know that they might get killed for preaching the gospel. In Northern Nigeria the Muslim extremists keep killing off our preachers, but God keeps calling new preachers. For some reason, they keep coming to our seminary. Sometimes I don’t understand it, but these young Christians are so courageous and committed.”
Wow. That matter-of-fact statement moves me to prayer. This week I am praying for other preachers around the world, who put their life and livelihood on the line to preach the gospel. I am praying that God would anoint them with unusual effectiveness and give them more fruit than they can imagine. But I am also praying for myself, for the pastors in our community, that we would so treasure the gospel, and so rest in His strength, that we would preach with the same courage and conviction. Join me.