My Most Difficult Responsibility
Nelson Searcy just posted "FDR on Sermon Preparation…" on his blog where he quoted an article on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was once asked how long it would take to prepare an address on a particular theme. “That depends on how long you want me to speak,’ the President answered.
“If you want an hour on the issue, I can be ready in two days. If you want thirty minutes, it will take me a week. If you want five minutes, it may take a month to prepare.”
FDR knew that arriving at the essence of a message is one of the most demanding exercises of all and takes more time to refine shorter addresses. I find this the most challenging aspect of my ministry. With my present responsibilities, I choose, prepare, and write curriculum that spans from Nursery-College. There are weeks where I prepare up to 6 talks per week. A new volunteer base has alleviated some of that responsibility; however, I prep a minimum of four talks a week.
FDR states that, “…Arriving at the essence is one of the most demanding exercises of all.” Agreed! I find it very difficult to be the creative speaker that I know that I can be and that God desires, because of the limited hours to focus on a particular message and to develop it in the way that I know it could connect and engage my listeners. I desire the hours in a week to refine my talks to the point where each child, student, and adult would be "caused" to learn and "persuaded" to act upon the God given message.
I teach and preach for transformation; however, I leave many speaking engagements thinking... "it could have been so much better, so much more refined, so much more creative and engaging if only I had the time deemed necessary for that message." Sometimes the creative juices aren't as creative as I would hope. I would love to spend 20 hours on a message like Andy Stanley and many other great communicators I know and listen to; however, that is just not possible at this period and juncture.
I wrestle with this week after week understanding that God uses me despite my feelings of inadequacy after speaking sometimes to hundreds. Part of this feeling sprouts from possessing an "A-type" personality; however, I really do not have adequate time to prepare. But, I also realize that my most difficult responsibility allows me to see God move in some way that I know that it is not me, but Him. I understand that if He can use a donkey to carry His message, He can use me despite my feelings of unpreparedness. At least, no one has fallen out of a window sill like the incident with the Apostle Paul!
If you feel you do not get the time you need to prepare a message, know you are not alone and continue to strive for ample time and quality in what you have been allotted. Know that I am praying for you as I request you to pray for me. And, even though we feel limited, God will continue to use us if we are willing to withstand the pressure and time restraints. Preaching On!