I preached on Sunday. I’m still a young cat when it comes to the proclamation of the gospel. I enjoy it, but there’s apart of me that would love to do it weekly to improve in my exegesis, bible study, and the delivering of a sermon actually worth hearing. Even with my "seminary" training and the do’s and don’t I learned after three years, I still laugh at myself when I make a mistake or two. Hear are a couple I always kick myself for and I was warned about in seminary.
1. Never apologize It blows me away in how one worship service can be so different from the other when it comes to the delivery of a sermon. This past Sunday I was reading the passage in the first service and I felt good about my reading of the text. In the second service I got a bad case of dyslexia and flip flopped chapters and read a couple of verses twice in chapter 33 and not chapter 32 and apologized twice in the middle of the reading. After I fumbled with embarrassment, I recovered and got back to the text and continued with the sermon, but still was kicking myself for apologizing and even joked about me having a possible case of dyslexia. What I’ve learned is not to put yourself down. Although people love when someone is actually human, It still takes the focus off the gospel and draws attention back onto you.
2. Bookmark any additional text you intend to refer to in your sermon. I laugh because the first service I biffed and was turning pages to find a passage I was making reference to and rectified it in between services with a couple of post-its and was ready in the second service when I made reference to to the passages. Phew.
3. Read and re-read your text for preaching. During my study I did read the passage a couple of times. Never caught the word "bridle" in PS. 32:9. I remember a wonderful preaching and speech prof I had in seminary who would ding us for reading the text incorrectly with no concern for pronunciation. In Psalm 32:9 and of course not knowing this because I’m a complete nimrod from the city, I said the word "briddle" as opposed to the word "bridle." Of course in our traditional service there are about 200 folks who grew up with horses and bridles and I heard a couple of folks laugh under their breathe and thought "gosh, I hadn’t even started preaching" and I was already hearing some quiet laughs, man I’m good." Not! When I was greeting folks at the end of the service, I was reminded of my reading error and learned that the word "bridle" actually has one D. DUH! Lesson learned, read the text, and if you are unsure of a word, use that dictionary. Again, most are forgiving when it comes to a small reading error, but it does turn off some who pay attention to the small things unfortunately which are just as important.
3. Stick to your notes. Although, I’m not a manuscript guy, frustrates me, and my profs told me this and to stick to my heart and ability to not use notes, I was still schooled in the art of the manuscript in seminary. Lesson learned? Don’t ever sway away from your notes, your manuscript or whatever you use that makes you comfortable. At least memorize your notes well enough to not use them. I blew it a couple of times when I couldn’t remember an illustration. The first service I fumbled and recovered in the second service. Lesson learned, look at those notes if you need to at least it shows you know what you’re actually talking about. Also, blow them if needed. My eyes are growing older and I’m finding it harder to read those silly notes.
4. Preach the Word! The Lord has given you a Word and the people want your heart, but also want content. Don’t pretend you know something when you really don’t. I’ve fallen into that temptation as a young preacher and people know it when you side step here and there in pretending and I think it was Calvin who said something about it being a sin if the preacher doesn’t do good exegesis of a text.
Lessons learned. Now we grow and move on. Praise be to God though that you don’t know who you are speaking to and you hope that someone catches a glimpse of hope and Jesus in the Word you’ve been given for the day.