Trust in the power, presence, and guidance of the Holy Spirit in your sermon prep and preaching.
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For years, I had a misguided Trinitarian approach to preaching: God the Father, Son, and Self-Reliance.
I had given a lot of lip service to the Holy Spirit by acknowledging his presence, but I hadn't experienced his power or showed evidence of partnering with him in my daily life. This realization triggered repentance and required a great deal of unlearning and reorientation of my heart and mind in order to come to trust the Holy Spirit in my preaching. It was painful, but necessary—and I'm still in process. Preaching in the power of the Spirit is certainly not an equation or a step-by-step formula where we look to insert the Holy Spirit into the preaching process. The Spirit is central—and, by his grace, I have a role to play in it.
But what does it mean to preach in the power of the Spirit—practically? And how might preachers enter into a process that involves an ever-deepening trust in the presence, power, and guidance of the Spirit that leads to deeper preaching?
We know (and have probably preached on) John 14 where the Spirit is described as teacher, illuminator, reminderer, the Spirit of Truth, and our Advocate. But to preach in the power of the Spirit we must ask a very simple, yet direct question of ourselves: Do I truly believe that the Spirit is my teacher, illuminator, guide, reminderer, advocate—the Spirit of Truth—and is graciously available to me, even in my preparation and delivery?
When we step into the pulpit each week this direct question must precede us, before we even open our mouths. We must personally learn to rely on the Spirit in our own lives first; then we must invite the Spirit into the pulpit with us.
There are two metaphors that have gripped my mind and heart regarding the role of the Spirit in my preaching.
The preaching process often feels like a couple dancing together on the dance floor—closeness, movement, celebration and, when done properly, beauty. As pastors we are not leading the dance—we follow the lead, our dance partner, the Holy Spirit. Different roles, different steps, different places, and yet we do it in concert with one another.
The preacher's role is to learn the ropes and the gear, working hard to hoist the sails, read the current patterns of the wind, and angle the boat properly in order to catch the wind in the sails. The Spirit's role is the blow when, where, and how strongly the Spirit desires. The preacher's job is neither to direct the wind nor grow impatient when the wind doesn't blow when, where, and how we desire. I do my part, but the Spirit provides the only thing that leads to real movement.