Preaching While In Pain
Preaching While In Pain
We’ve been exploring the subject of how you go about preaching through pain that invades your life. There are sources of pain that drain you physically, mentally and spiritually, and require that you learn the art of preaching while in pain of various kinds. There the big ones, of course, like loss of someone through death, the death of a relationship, the pain of physical illness (yours or a spouse’s or child’s), sudden accident that creates injury and limitation, long-term illness, relational breakdown, and the like.
But there are a bunch of little sources of pain that add up to drain you of the spiritual resources to preach well. Here I have in mind things like too many meetings, sermon block, critics in your church, dealing with very needed people, lack of sleep, etc.
Learning How To Preach While In Pain
Preaching while in pain is something we all need to be able to do. We’ve looked at two secrets in the previous post: recognizing that pain is normal in a broken world; and looking for the lessons in the pain. Paul, in particular, had to learn not to be conceited. That was one of the lessons from his thorn in the flesh.
Take the Time You Need
Another key to preaching while in pain is to use all the natural means of renewal that are provided. Make sure you take regular breaks from ministry, especially when you are depleted by pain. This is a general truth. One of my teachers and mentors in ministry, C. Peter Wagner used to say that if you are going to do ministry well, you need to have a daily diversion, a weekly withdrawal, and an annual abandonment. When you are in a time of pain, you may need to add to that mantra–extra days, or even weeks. When Rick Warren’s son committed suicide, he withdrew from ministry for 16 weeks, with the full support of his ruling elder board. He understood that sometimes you need to withdraw, to grieve, heal and experience restoration.
I had a time when I was depressed. The combination of a relocation project, staff problems and the challenge of critics left me drained. It was incredibly humbling to admit this to the elders at my church. But when I did, they simply asked what I thought I needed during this time. I requested an extra 3 weeks off that year, during which I would continue counseling, but also rest. They readily granted the request, and I was able to return to preaching refreshed and ready for the next steps in our journey.
I know–some of you are thinking right now that this would never happen in your church! Don’t be too sure. Yes, it will require you to be humble and admit you are not super-preacher. Pick one or two key leaders to share your pain with, and you may be surprised how they respond.
Trusting God While Preaching in Pain
Preaching while in pain requires you to spend enough time with God through prayer, meditation and reflection on scripture. Continue to do the spiritual disciplines that will draw you close to him. Then you can experience his presence, and will be able to trust that he is still on his throne. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the apostle Paul said, we will gain a perspective on our pain. The assurance comes that this momentary affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
We’re going to continue this subject in the next post, but for now, please take note of this brief phrase-by-phrase explanation of James 5:10-11.
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