For a guy who is really bad at articulating any sort of emotional state, in the writing of the previous post I have tried to bring you into some of the thoughts and feelings that lead into the delivery of a sermon.
I see what we often stress in two broad categories. There is task oriented stress that revolves around having so many things to accomplish in so little time which produces some concern (to put it mildly). Then there is emotional stress which isn’t connected with tasks and cannot be crossed off a to-do list. This is a constant weight which hovers around us day and night and is often times related to things out of our control. The pastor’s call to shepherding is largely wrapped up in the emotional side of this scenario. Maybe that is an unfair generalization to make of all pastors, but I know that is true of my pastoral calling.
When I deliver a heavy sermon from Romans 9 I am hoping and praying that the hearts of those who God has brought to Crossings Community will respond with a greater love for the Father. I am praying that God uses me to deliver his truth in a way that is transforming rather than distracting. I often find myself crying out to God (literally yelling) for his Spirit to foster a great love of truth which overwhelms the doubts our hearts often feel.
I believe God wants me to feel this emotional tension. I believe it is an integral part of his special gifting he gives to those who shepherd his people. However, I also believe that the tension he desires is there to create a dependence on his Spirit which brings the perfect amount of peace at the perfect moments, so that his laborer can deliver his message.
As the pastor of a church that values the expository preaching of God’s word, I will often find myself in the storm of being a bold prophet and a tender shepherd. Week by week and sermon by sermon I will become more dependent on our God to move mightily in the hearts of those who hear his word. I have seen it. I have felt it. I am walking in it today. As we continue to travel through this awesome chapter of scripture and throughout the pages of his word, there will be many difficult and divisive sermons, but in his great sovereignty and grace there will be transformation of hearts wrought in the preaching of his word empowered by his Spirit.