Ready for it?
Be in love with Jesus.
I don’t mean “in love with Jesus” as some gushy sentimental sit-on-his-lap-and-rub-his beard “in love with Jesus”*. I mean a lively, gritty, rough, desperate, and vigorous “in love with Jesus”.
I’m talking about the type of love that leaves you simply in awe of who He is—that almost obsessive impulse that you had when you were dating your wife. But also that type of love that makes you angry. The kind where you are so dedicated to the person but at the same time so unbelievably confused by the things they are saying and doing. Your reaction isn’t to bolt, it’s to dig, to get to know, to understand, and to fall in love all over again.
Stale preaching comes from stale preachers. Yeah, I know that the Word has power and any dolt can be used by the Almighty. But I don’t just want the Lord to use my sermons as if I’m some non-personal instrument. I want the Lord to rock my own soul as He sees fit to use my feeble preaching.
I’m not being faithful to the living Word of God if it’s not living within my own soul and transforming my own life. Preaching isn’t merely a bare expositing of words and saying, “Here is what God says”. Preaching is expositing the words and saying “Here is what God says” AND having your life transformed by those very words.
I don’t think I’m saying anything more than Richard Baxter did some 400 years ago:
When I let my heart grow cold, my preaching is cold; and when it is confused, my preaching is confused…We are the nurses of Christ’s little ones. If we forbear taking food ourselves, we shall famish them; it will soon be visible in their leanness…If we let our love decline, we are not like to raise up theirs. If we abate our holy care and fear, it will appear in our preaching…If we feed on unwholesome food, either errors or fruitless controversies, our hearers are like to fare the worst for it.
The picture is of a nursing mother. She cannot feed her infant if she is starving herself. Likewise, if she eats unwholesome food it will effect that health of the baby she is feeding. Pastors are the same way. If we are feasting on Christ then we’ll feed them with the soundness of our Lord. If we nibble on anything else, they will famish.
The best way to improve your preaching is to be in love with Jesus.
I’m indebted to Matt Chandler for that phrasing.