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Dallas WillardSee theme

preaching skill

A Cup Running Over

Learning to preach from the overflow of your deeply satisfying relationship with the Savior

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In my early days of ministry I spent huge amounts of time absorbed in Scripture and great spiritual writers. The Lord made it possible for me to spend whole days—without any issue of preparing for something or taking an examination—soaking up the Scripture. I literally wore out the books of great spiritual writers. This focus was foundational to my spiritual journey, to finding satisfaction in Christ.

There is no substitute for simple satisfaction in the Word of God, in the presence of God. That affects all your actions.

Characteristics of dissatisfaction

Preachers who are not finding satisfaction in Christ are likely to demonstrate that with overexertion and overpreparation for speaking, and with no peace about what they do after they do it. If we have not come to the place of resting in God, we will go back and think, Oh, if I'd done this, or Oh, I didn't do that.

When you come to the place where you are drinking deeply from God and trusting him to act with you, there is peace about what you have communicated.

One of my great joys came when I got up from a chair to walk to the podium and the Lord said to me, "Now remember, it's what I do with the Word between your lips and their hearts that matters." That is a tremendous lesson. If you do not trust God to do that, then he will let you do what you're going to do, and it's not going to come to much. But once you turn it loose and recognize we are always inadequate but our inadequacy is not the issue, you are able to lay that burden down. Then the satisfaction you have in Christ spills over into everything you do.

The preacher who does not minister in that satisfaction is on dangerous ground. Those who experience moral failure are those who failed to live a deeply satisfied life in Christ, almost without exception. I know my temptations come out of situations where I am dissatisfied, not content. I am worried about something or not feeling the sufficiency I know is there. If I have a strong temptation, it will be out of my dissatisfaction.

The moral failures of ministers usually are over one of three things: sex, money, or power. That always comes out of dissatisfaction. Ministers are reaching for something, and they begin to feel, I deserve something better. I sacrifice so much and get so little. And so I'll do this. The surest guarantee against failure is to be so at peace and satisfied with God that when wrongdoing presents itself it isn't even interesting. That is how we stay out of temptation.

Characteristics of a satisfied soul

We are long on devices and programs. We have too many of them, and they get in the way. What we really need are preachers who can stand in simplicity and manifest and declare the richness of Christ in life. There isn't anything on earth that begins to compete with that for human benefit and human interest.

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September 17, 2012  9:51pm

An incredibly insightful and informative article. Broken with emotion and comfort, I read carefully the heart of a man that's found the key to "his yoke is easy and his burden is light". Your passion for encouraging, not just those seeking that enhanced realm, but those presently experiencing it and needing affirmation as to its effectiveness; you richly provided that element. I thank God first for your obedience, and secondly, for the class in which it was rendered. I'm sure we, at Impact Ministries, will make this a necessary reading for all our Word ministers. It entails the essence of what true ministry should look like; a minister spiritually filled and pouring out of his belly the Grace of this transformative Gospel. This article was forwarded to me from a fellow minister, who also senses the divine expressiveness of the overflow of which you've alluded. Normally, I've been skeptical of larger volume media due to subject generalities; I'll be more open to material such as this!

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Barton McElroy

March 12, 2012  10:45am

Excellent! It is time that preaching be from the life of the preacher as centered in the Word of God.

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February 12, 2012  7:20pm

Thanks for sharing this truth that God has led you to write. I agree with you one hundred percent! It is the only way, for results that show, and for the group or congregation to receive from the Lord. Pastor, I give God praise for you.

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January 31, 2012  5:36pm

It sound that it comes from a deep well of satisfaction in the Lord - thank Dr. Willard for such wisdom filled words. It encouraged me.

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Ricky Ray Taylor

January 30, 2012  9:14am

Keeping God and His message at the forefront of "us" is key.

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