“Some call it being ‘protective of the pulpit.’ But let’s call it for what it really is: insecurity.”
One of the greatest areas of insecurity for pastors is preaching.
I love it. It’s like candy to me. This formerly quiet, introverted kid LOVES to preach. But in nearly 20 years of ministry, out of my insecurities, I’ve struggled with letting go of the pulpit.
I’ll admit, I’ve gotten way better at this. I love to hear our staff speak, whether it’s through preaching, small group or music. They are gifted with their voices and styles of presentation.
But I look back at many past years of ministry to students and adults and, quite frankly, I feel I deprived them. I gave them one voice. Some call it being “protective of the pulpit.” I understand that, and I do protect who’s preaching in our church. But let’s call it for what it really is: insecurity.
Here are four reasons why the senior pastor shouldn’t preach every Sunday.
1. Your congregation needs to hear voices besides yours.
My insecurities tell me that people need to be dependent on my voice and style alone. Gird your loins for this: You (and I) are not the only ones with an ability to speak into the people we pastor. Take another breath and ready yourself again: Some people may be better equipped to speak into life situations and/or subjects than their pastor.
I deal with depression and have no issue preaching about it. But having an outside voice deal with it like John Opalewski can bring a freshness and strategic focus to a sensitive subject.
Use outside preachers. Use staff. Bring in missionaries and/or evangelists you network with. Disciple volunteers if you don’t have a staff. But get out of the pulpit and let someone speak besides you.
2. Your pride needs to be in check.
Preaching is what preachers do. But insecurity wants to convince me to make Sunday mornings all about me. I need to remind myself I’m not the “end all” of preachers.
“Recognition” and “desire” are two seductive temptresses. They seduce us into wanting to build our own little empire instead of the Kkngdom. When you hear that people only want to hear you, there’s a side of you that craves to hear that. What side of you wants that? The ego.
Your staff, elders, missionaries, etc. stepping into the pulpit brings you the rushing reality that the “preaching sun” doesn’t rise and fall on you. I love when I hear our members talk about how much they love to hear our staff. It’s not a shot against me. It’s a plus for the kingdom.
3. You preach better if your “preaching voice” is rested.
Insecurity makes me want to overcompensate and preach beyond my physical, mental and spiritual capability. We could power through like pastors did in the “old days.” They preached Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday, etc. But with the amount of burnout and abusive preaching I’ve seen, I believe if our preachers properly rested they would be refreshed and able to preach better. A rested preacher is a better preacher.
I’ll admit, I never leave sermon-preparation mode. I’m always on the clock as I view life as a constant narrative of what God is speaking to me (plus, life hands you amazing sermon illustrations … but that’s for another post). Creating a system to collect my ideas and stories has helped.
4. It forces you to strategically plan ahead.
Insecurity tells me to bring in guest speakers only when calendar brings lighter attendance and/or I’m on vacation. But strategically bringing in key preachers from inside your church or outside the congregation can help you build a sermon strategy for your church.
Instead of taking your preaching calendar one Sunday at a time, this forces you to plan ahead. That way, you can bring different emphases throughout the year as well as prevent preaching burnout. Advance planning and prayer creates a healthy sermon climate for your congregation to grow as well as for you to become a stronger preacher.
I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with this, but it’s time to bring the struggle into the light. The age of the isolated, insecure diva pastor has passed—the church no longer revolves around one pastor. Insecurity wants the diva to cling to the spotlight for fear of losing something.
But we need to remember: The church doesn’t belong to me. It’s his bride and not mine. And if we let the church be about Jesus, he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. I’m not an owner of what belongs to another. I am a steward of the kingdom, and everything I do must point toward him.