If you’re the real deal and not just a poser, then you have been called by God to preach. To receive such a calling means you have been authorized by God to be His Voice to the flock—could there be a higher honor? Yours is a sacred calling, and it must be treated as such. This means there is no room for compromise when it comes to preparing your Sunday sermon, your midweek Bible lesson, or anything else. When you speak as God’s shepherd, your words must be His words, no one else’s. And if you are truly called, this is not hard, for you will hear the Holy Spirit whispering His words to your soul.
Now let’s talk about the elders and the church board and every other opinionated human in your life. Do they have a right to put their two cents in to what you’re going to preach on? No, they do not. Who is it that God has authorized to speak for Him? You, not them. There is no room for “group” when it comes to speaking for God. Should the high priest Aaron have adjusted the way he presented offerings to Yahweh because some non-priest came along with some unsolicited suggestions? When God called you to speak for Him, He did not authorize you to run a draft of His message past fallen mortals to see if it meets with the approval of their egos. God is the only One who can instruct you on the topic of what He wants to say, and what He wants to say is the only thing He wants to hear coming out of your mouth when you’re standing behind that pulpit.
Speaking for God is extremely serious business. When you speak for Him, you become a symbol of Him in the eyes of the people. This means that if you start spinning out a bunch of carnal rot, the flock will go massively astray. God has entrusted you with a great level of influence here. Be careful not to abuse it by growing slack in your sermon preparations. If there is no fire in your soul about the lesson you are preparing, then your lesson needs to find its way into the nearest trashcan. You have been called by God to speak His words—not your words or anyone else’s. This is a sacred trust which must not be violated.
Now suppose you know that the political powers around you are not going to want to hear what God wants to say this week. Well, they can just lump it. Who do you work for? God, not people. Does a human cut you a paycheck? That does not mean he owns you. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” If God wants to hand you money through human hands, it is still His money. Satan is going to do anything he can to back you into some intimidated corner and stop you from saying what God wants you to say. Let’s remember that Satan is like carpet lint compared to the mighty Holy Spirit. Do you want to get on the wrong side of carpet lint or on the wrong side of God? Speaking for God must not be compromised. Just because most of the Church has run amuck with rebellion in this area does not mean you have permission to follow her wretched example. Maybe every other pastor in your area is a carnal poser who is doing a job that he was never authorized to do. Let’s be These days the Church works hard to screen out the real guys because she wants her pulpits manned by sellouts, kiss-ups, and the servants of Satan. But man’s political games cannot block the Holy Spirit from getting His guys through the gates, and if He has gathered an audience around you, then He expects you to honor Him in your delivery of His message.
God’s words are the only words that should be coming out of your mouth when you preach. Just because the Church has made a mockery out of this calling by applauding every spiritual moron who gets up and casts his meaningless words onto the heads of the flock does not mean that God has changed His definition of what a pastor is supposed to be. Pastor, priest, minister, reverend—whatever title men refer to you by, you are functioning as one of God’s shepherds and there is no more sacred trust. We who lead God’s flock about cannot guide them by our own wisdom, or we will surely drive them over cliffs of delusion and then we will be held accountable by Him for our rebellion. Human wisdom is useless drivel. It is only God’s wisdom that counts for anything, and when He called you to shepherd His flock, He committed to giving you the wisdom you would need to carry out the task.
So what is the point of a Sunday sermon, anyway? God wants souls to be exposed to a kernel of His truth as they sit in those pews staring up at you. God wants to illuminate minds, soften hearts, encourage, strengthen, and chastise. He has a different agenda for each individual and He has the perfect sermon all worked out which will accomplish all of His goals at once. That is the sermon that you will hear whispered to your soul. To alter it would be like tossing a handful of mud into a bucket of clean water. Why would you want to corrupt God’s message? To please fallen humans of course—let’s be honest about the pressure. Even when we know better, humans can succeed in intimidating us. Peer pressure is a real thing, and to pretend you are immune to it when you’re really not is useless. Be honest with God about your faltering courage when He drops some loaded grenade in your lap for Sunday. But after you’re honest about your struggle, ask Him to have His total way in your life and to control your mouth when it comes time for you to speak.
You’re not docked any points by God for being afraid or feeling nervous and intimidated. Such feelings only increase your opportunity to honor Him. When you prove yourself to be a faithful shepherd, you can be sure God will fill your mouth with divisive messages, for who else does He have that will speak such words for Him? You’ve read the Bible: you know how God talks. He’s never been the mealy-mouthed, ego-stroking schmoozer that people make Him out to be today. He whacks rebels hard across the face, and in the Church, there are plenty of rebels to be found. Is He going to speak harsh words through you? Undoubtedly. Some weeks He will be vicious, others He will be gentle. You’re going to experience a wide range of His passions flowing through you as you speak for Him, and because of that, you will end up knowing Him in an especially intimate way.
There is no higher privilege than to speak for God, and it is not something you can do alone. For Him to speak through you, He must be right there with you, planting His words on your tongue and steadying your frail human frame against the glares and the scoffs and the note taking by those who are just looking for ammo to use against you. This is not a calling which cowards can endure, but a man who casts himself totally into God’s hands and relies entirely on Him will excel. God called you because you are the one He wanted for this job. God never makes mistakes. If you look to Him to keep you faithful, He will. So what if the humans get all huffy? So what if they threaten to fire you? Let them—God will simply move you on to a new audience. And if you spoke for Him, you can know you will have left behind thorns of truth which will continue to agitate those who drove you out.
The Church today is in a major crisis. She openly despises and mocks her Husband. False shepherds are tearing the lambs limb from limb and devouring them for their own selfish gain. Who can God call on to speak His unadulterated truth? Who can He count on to stay faithful to His calling and to guard the flock with His same jealous zeal? Can He count on you? He clearly thinks He can, for He has selected you out of a vast sea of souls to be His Voice. Surrender your entire self into His service and ask Him to make you all that He wants you to be. He will do it, and because of your obedience, another stubborn ray of light will be piercing through this great darkness.
Shepherd Burnout: Help for Pastors