Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Foolishness of Preaching

This week I’m going to spend two and a half days with about 30 leaders from another church. It’s their annual leadership retreat and they’ve asked me to come and speak. I’ve been preparing for a few weeks and now that I’m close to the time of the retreat I’m freshly reminded of the truth of 1 Corinthians 1:21.

Most of the 30 leaders are lay leaders. That is to say, they work full time jobs outside of the church and volunteer significant amounts of time to do ministry within the church. That means they are taking off from work to attend this retreat.

Some of them have been serving God and people for a period of time and in ways that has taken a lot out of them. Thus the retreat’s aim is to provide “rest” in the sense of spiritual refreshment, renewed vision, and encouragement to endure in a worthy endeavor.

With all of the above in mind I have begun to feel some pressure about my assignment. I’m going to speak in five different sessions and the thought has occurred to me, “What if I do a poor job of speaking?” Here they have taken vacation days from work, given precious time to be away from their families, and have come with hope and expectancy that they would be invigorated and renewed. And then I “drop the ball”.

It was at this point of reflection that I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:21 where Paul marvels and declares how God chooses to use “the foolishness of preaching” to penetrate our lives and do saving, redemptive work. What does that mean?

Think about it. It’s crazy or foolish to think that one person can speak one message and it is profound or enlightening or encouraging to 30 different, unique people at the same time UNLESS God chooses to take those words and empower them by His Spirit.

That reality doesn’t excuse me from the work of preparation but it does relieve me that the weight of my speaking finding a meaningful connection with a listener rests upon God’s Spirit. Of course the listener has to accept some responsibility in listening.

What assignment do you have today that calls upon your work, your investment, the use of your gifts or abilities but also needs empowerment from God? Let us call upon God and experience His power.

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