When I first started in ministry, I preached like I had something important to say. I was the center of attention. I was the one who was going to bring revival. I was the one who would reach millions. I was the one who would teach those things that were so profound no one had ever heard anything like them. I would be unique, set apart, set above. The longer I did ministry, and the longer I do ministry, the more I recognized my own insufficiencies. Whereas I once preached like someone who had something profound to say, I now preach like someone who has been beat up.
You might ask what I mean by that. I have been, and continue to be, beat up. People throw punches at me from around the world. Muslims hate me because I preach Christ alone. Atheists mock me for the same reason. Catholics are always trying to debate me. It seems like everyone who is inventing a new religion stumbles across the ministry blog and wants me to buy into a brand new, revolutionary same old rusty way that the world has of doing things. That’s what it means to be profound in our day, isn’t it? Find new terms and phrases to describe the same old rusty worldly way.
Yeah. The more time that passes, the more I realize my own insufficiencies. You know, they (the ethereal they) spend much time in seminary teaching students how to be the most effective writers and public speakers they can be so that their sermons can produce some results. The reason I thought I was going to be the best thing to hit the circuit was that I thought my method and the words that I used would produce results. They did in a way. More people doesn’t equal godly discipleship. I think that God made me a worse preacher as I grew in the faith. Then again, perhaps I simply recognize more of the insufficiencies I have always had. Let me list them for you:
- My introvertedness keeps me from being charismatic. This makes it really difficult for me to get anyone’s attention.
- I stumble over my words and will sometimes say the wrong adverb in a sentence. This is what I hate most.
- I am not that attractive and I feel like I just look goofy while I am speaking.
- I don’t really stutter, but I do often repeat the same word two or three times in succession when I get excited.
- After every preaching or teaching moment, I am ready to leave the ministry because my insufficiencies are never more apparent than when I am being convicted by the very word I am preaching or teaching. There is always someone who is more than willing to point those insufficiencies out.
It’s just a guess, but this is probably why I preach like someone who has been beat up. This is why I want to devote some time to this subject. This is something that I need in my current stage. Despite my constant feelings of inadequacy and the eager willingness of so many to point out every inadequacy they perceive me to have, my personal ministry has exploded. For those of you around the world who don’t understand that euphemism, explode is an illustration referring to quick, exponential growth. As my ministry has multiplied, so have the numbers of people throwing punches from around the world. For this purpose, I want to observe the insufficiencies of those people that God used through His Bible. Not their failures; their insufficiencies. There is a difference. I will start with some figures in the Old Testament, but I really want to observe the weaknesses of preachers throughout the New Testament. I hope that this will be profitable for more of Christ’s servants out there. Before we begin this series next week, what biblical figures can you think of who had insufficiencies in spite of which God worked and accomplished His own will? Take a moment and list your own insufficiencies. Keep these handy as we work through the Bible together. Let them be a reminder of our weaknesses, God’s mercy, and God’s amazing grace in His ministry of His own word.