Letter from a Spiritual Director (1)
I’m so glad to hear that church is going well and that the new building is proving to be more of a blessing than a hindrance (when are you going to invite me to come and preach there?!?) I know you feel a deep sense of call to be a preacher who is faithful to God’s word- on a number of levels- so I imagine it feels rather rewarding to preach in a Salvation Army citadel with all that history!
You mentioned that you often feel ‘wrung out’ after you’ve preached- join the club my friend, it is an exhausting vocation- but I’m intrigued; what did you mean by a ‘preaching hangover’? It’s one thing to be physically tired, but another to have 24hrs in the doldrums afterwards. You seem to put yourself under a lot of pressure to do well, and I think you probably need to chill out a bit and then (prayerfully) do a little bit of rewiring in your head- Are you trying to impress anyone? Whose praise (or lack of) means the most to you post-sermon? How high do you set the bar for yourself? Why do you set it that high (or low)? What makes a ‘good’ sermon good? What about a ‘bad’ one? Who has set those criteria for you? Listen, Alan, I really think you ought to try and be a little bit kinder to yourself about your preaching. If I didn’t know you so well, I’d think that you were getting up to preach under duress- who’s holding the gun, Alan?
My advice is to enjoy your preaching! Celebrate your gift! False humility is a waste of time and most people pick up a vague whiff of it that turns them off. Why are you on such a downer about this? These are beautiful things that you have been given and it is NOT being self-obsessed to enjoy them! It is important that you prepare well- I know that you know that- but seriously, quit second-guessing and over-analysing afterwards. It’s like you nit-pick over nits- minutiae!- and God doesn’t do that to you. It might be wise to ask one or two people that you trust for their honest feedback from time to time, but don’t worry about it if you have a bad Sunday in the pulpit. It’s only seven days until the next sermon and besides, you really aren’t all that important 😉
Keep going my dear friend, grace and peace to you!
Your Spiritual Director