Please forgive the sports analogy. Sometimes pastoring feels like a sports event. Sometimes you feel like you’re preaching before a home crowd and sometimes you feel like you’re not. Sometimes you can feel the momentum of the day when service begins and sometimes you don’t feel it at all.
The preacher in me is never satisfied. I don’t want to be lulled into that kind of confidence which leads to cockiness. Not only do I enjoy preaching but I am a fan of the cultural art of black preaching. My preaching mentors have been preachers like Dr. A. Bernard Devers, Dr. Johnny Pack, IV, Dr. Hayward Wiggins, Dr. E. Edward Jones, Dr. Donald Parson, Dr. Stephen John Thurston, Dr. C.E. Williams, Dr. LeeArthur J. Madison, Dr. E.V. Hill, Dr. R.A. Williams, Jr., Dr. A. Louis Patterson, and the list goes on and on. I have always felt obligated to give God my best in preaching. If He thought it best to call me, I think it’s best to bring to the pulpit the most prepared preacher and preachment I can muster.
Today I preached a sermon, “Decisions That Create Consequences.” Admittedly, the crowd was lower than normal due to the Kentucky State University homecoming. Normally, the city shuts down and there are a plethora of events that the local residents take advantage of, including a massive concert on Saturday night, which normally ends around 1 or 2 a.m. So, it’s not uncommon to have a dramatic drop in attendance – justifiable so, with events going from Friday to literally Sunday morning.
The sermon today dealt with Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and his ascent to the throne of united Israel. He had a God-given opportunity to bring a more compassionate leadership to Israel. Matter of fact, a little known fact is that Solomon was strong willed at the end of his 40 year reign. The point of the message was that your decisions can bring consequences to your life – both positive and negative. Rehoboam listened to his contemporaries and not his elders, nor did he pray about it. Instead he chose to treat the people more harshly, which resulted in death, rebellion and the break-up of Israel into Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
And I thought that I was a kicker in a football game. I felt like the sermon veered to the left. I thought I had not been successful in the message. I know many preachers would not say what I’m about to say – but I thought that it was my fault. Maybe it was too much information to digest at one time. Maybe it wasn’t preached as well as it should have been. Maybe I went left when I should have been right. Maybe I didn’t read the crowd correctly. Maybe my preparation could have been better. I felt like a field goal kicker and I had kicked the ball and listening for a crowd reaction, I thought I had missed the mark, missed the goal, and let The Owner down.
I came home after worship and went to Facebook. I usually go there for feedback from the service, because my members are savvy enough to express their feelings about the service. I looked for them to talk about getting rest today, how things went last night, and I was not looking for anything about the message. I was hoping that somebody would have said “off day in church today, it’ll be better next week.”
Then I opened Facebook to read the following:
“ENJOYED THE SERVICE THIS AFTERNOON IT ANSWER ALOT OF THINGS THAT I HAVE BEEN WONDERING ABOUT ALL I HAVE TO DO IS GIVE IT TO GOD HE HOLDS ALL THE ANSWERS JUST LET HIM HAVE IT ALL.”
“Enjoyed the services at First Baptist Church. Peace, quiet, and relaxation for the remainder of the day. I am going to enjoy this beautiful day and spend time with the Lord. Praying for a hedge of protection around the nation, restoration for prodigals, healing, deliverance, repentance, removal of the hardened-heart, and for all to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Savior. I give God all the glory, praise, and thanks for answering my prayer requests. My God is awesome, faithful and nothing is too hard for him. You must believe to receive, in the name of Jesus it is written and already done. Hallelujah and praise the Lord.”
Thank God for the word, I was feeling pretty low this morning, before hearing the message — with Robert Earl Houston.
I need to publicly say that today, my members ministered to me and encouraged my heart. While my back was turned, I thought I had missed the field goal, when in actuality I had scored – God gave the increase. I think that sometimes we swing for the fences, but God reminded me today that the word doesn’t have to slay them out to be effective. AND the results are not in the hands of the preacher, it’s in the hands of the Holy Spirit who works on the hearts of the listeners.
Thank you Lord!