Preachers love preaching, but we shouldn’t love it too much. A potential idol for preachers is the act of preaching. We can crave the pulpit too much. And while we preachers can talk to the sheep about finding their identity in Christ and not in their work, this is a word we need to preach to ourselves.
We are not our preaching. We are not our sermons. We are disciples before we are leaders. And sometimes, we need to get out of the pulpit. Letting others preach is good for you, the church, and the mission.
Good for You
You can rest and recharge. The mental work of preaching is exhausting. The emotional work of preaching is draining. The physical aspect—especially with multiple services—is taxing. There’s an exponential exhaustion factor when these elements collide. Studying during the week, wrestling with prepositions, outlining a herd of thoughts, and then writing and delivering your words on God’s Holy Word is daunting. Help yourself avoid burnout by taking scheduled Sundays out of the pulpit. If you don’t have anyone you can entrust the task to yet, call a friend, invite another Acts 29 pastor to your church, get creative. Take time to rest, recharge, and revive that zeal to proclaim the risen Christ.
You can spend more time with your family. When you’re preaching, your wife has a Sunday experience unlike most of her friends. Her husband is occupied, people are talking to him, he can’t help with the kids. . . pastors’ wives are the background heroes of gospel ministry. When you aren’t preaching, you get more family time—no last-minute prep on Saturday. You get to ride to the service together, check the kids into childcare, and sit with your wife. It’s wonderful.Preachers love preaching, but we shouldn’t love it too much. A potential idol for preachers is the act of preaching. Click To Tweet
You can focus on other matters. There are a dozen squeaky wheels in every church. When preaching is one of your weekly responsibilities, it’s difficult to give attention to all the parts in the church calling for WD-40. But when you have no sermon to prep, you can give your time and attention to all the squeaks.
You remember that you aren’t the key. Taking your hands off the pulpit reminds you that you are not the key, the X-factor, or the cornerstone of your church. It’s still Jesus. Gospel ministry still goes forward in power when other faithful brothers are preaching God’s Word. The Spirit still shows up. Vacating the pulpit is a way to pursue humility.
Good for the Church
Allegiances are rightly aligned. When the church hears her other pastors preaching, they’re reminded that their allegiance isn’t to you but to Christ and his Word. Opening the pulpit helps dismantle a local church’s celebrity culture. While you may not be a famous preacher, local church culture can still surround you with celebrity status. Resist this impulse.
A consistent message is established through unified voices. There’s just something about a fresh voice. When a guest preacher comes to town or the worship pastor preaches one Sunday, the church may hear from them what you’ve been trying to say. Hallelujah! Jealousy shouldn’t rise to the surface in these moments. Remember the point of the preaching: It’s not so they can hear you, but to behold the glory of Jesus and be transformed more and more into his image.
Good for the Mission
Leaders are developed. No brainer here. When you step back from the pulpit, you’re giving others the opportunity to grow in their gifts. You are giving others space to flex and roam. There is no supplement for preaching to the gathered church. You can simulate it in a preaching lab or some other environment, but there is nothing like a local church gathered for worship. Preaching is a unique shepherding moment. All pastors are shepherds and should be able to teach, but not all shepherds regularly preach. And when a fellow elder can proclaim the Word of truth to the gathered church, let him rock. Let others labor in preaching and teaching with you. (Bonus: Your fellow elders may grow in their sympathy for what you do almost every week!)Your next church planter might be called, equipped, and sent into the harvest by simply opening the preaching schedule. Click To Tweet
Church planters are discovered. Train church planters by getting your feet out of the pulpit. There might be a deacon, lay elder, or student minister who is gifted to preach—and it’s waiting to be discovered. Maybe you don’t have anyone who seems ready for the task. Disciple them. Entrust it to them. Equip them for the work of this ministry. Your next church planter might be called, equipped, and sent into the harvest by simply opening the preaching schedule.
If you feel a resistance in your heart and mind to the thought of handing the keys over for a Sunday, maybe an idol is riled up. Knock it down by stepping down from the stage for a week. Brothers, get out of the pulpit now and then. It’s good for you, the church, and the mission.