Preaching is Less About Me
March 1, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend the 9Marks Conference on Preaching, hosted at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was a refreshing time to be encouraged in the high calling of preaching by the likes of Mark Dever, Jason Allen, and David Helm.
One sentence has stuck with me this week, more than the many other great statements. David Helm, a pastor with Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, said, “Expositors are known more for their convictions than their abilities.” This statement is striking because we live in a culture that celebrates, even idolizes, gifts, abilities, skills, human accomplishments, and achievements. But the more I have pondered Helm’s statement, the more I realize how important this sentence is not only for preachers, but also for congregations. It’s not merely a statement of fact, but a vision for preaching. Here’s what I mean…
- Preachers (i.e. expositors) are called to proclaim God’s word, not their word. Paul’s famous words to the young pastor, Timothy, were, “Preach the word…” (2 Tim. 4:2). The command is in light of the slippery slope of those who “turn away from listening to the truth.” What is to be proclaimed is the truth of God’s word. Therefore, to restate Helm’s sentence with a different emphasis, preachers ought not to be known for their magnificent speaking abilities, but for the truth of Scripture that is proclaimed with conviction.
- God’s word is living and active, not the preacher. The primary conviction a preacher ought to cling to (and this was emphasized at the conference) is that God’s word is eternal life (cf. John 12:50). It is God’s word that man should live by (Matt. 4:4). It is God’s word that is able to make you wise for salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). It is God’s word that renews the mind (Rom. 12:2). Therefore, preachers ought to be known for leading people to the living waters of Christ revealed in Scripture.
- Faithful preachers will have a diminishing personality while God’s word is proclaimed. We preach not to be noticed. We preach not to be celebrated. We preach not to draw attention to ourselves. We preach to feed God’s people the only spiritual food that will sustain. We preach to redirect the hearts of God’s people toward Him and his faithful promises. Just as John the Baptist said in light of Jesus’ rising popularity, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
What do you expect when you hear a sermon? What are you looking for? If we believe what the Bible says about itself, the sermon will become less about the preacher and his “performance” and more about what God has to say to us. May we be a church where “Expositors are known more for their convictions than their abilities.”