A few weeks ago, a friend shared these words: James, I just want to be a better pastor. It was startling, a bit, to hear. My friend has been a pastor for fifty-one years. Yes, you read correctly, fifty-one years and after fifty-one years he is not talking retirement or how hard and difficult it has been or how discouraging and disappointing and depressing the ministry is, no. After fifty-one years, I just want to be a better pastor.
So, after six years or fifty-one years, how might a pastor be a better pastor? Especially since much of what pastor does and prepares for is preaching. This, I think, is a help (although convicting too).
*Three short bullet points that I think will make a great difference:
1. Since freedom from self-consciousness is ultimately a gift of God, you can’t make it happen. It’s paradoxical. If you focus on making it happen, it’s not happening. Since it’s a gift of God, pray earnestly for the gift of self-forgetfulness in the hours leading up to your preaching.
2. Since the pursuit of self-forgetfulness must be indirect — because fighting self-consciousness in the moment makes us self-conscious — let’s pursue it by stoking the fires of love for our subject matter and for our people. The more thrilled you are with what you have to preach, the less you are going to think about yourself preaching. That may be the most important thing I have to say, so I’m going to say that again: the more thrilled we are with what we have to say about God, about his ways, about his Son, about his gospel, and about the life we have in Christ, the less we are going to think about ourselves preaching it.
3. If in the midst of preaching, we become aware of ourselves and realize this — and God will give us the grace to do this — we need to say to that temptation, “No.” Just speak up: “No.” Then, inasmuch as it lies within us, consciously turn our back on that temptation of self-consciousness and focus again on the glorious thing we’re saying and on the people in front of us.
May the Lord work this miracle in all of us. Not just in preaching, but in all of our authentic communication.
I share this to help you whether a pastor or not. It is to encourage you in how to pray for your pastor this Sunday and perhaps not just pastors, but small group leaders; Bible study teachers; Sunday School teachers or in your witness. But especially pray it for your pastor.
*Read the full article here: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-overcome-crippling-self-consciousness