My name is Dave. And I am an insecure pastor.
It’s the truth about many people, let alone pastors. Defined, insecurity is the lack of confidence in oneself. Also, it’s the state of being open to danger. Put that together in a pastor’s life, you’ve got someone who struggles with their own strengths and weaknesses and sees others as a threat. I could be completely off my rocker, but I believe there is such a pandemic of unchecked insecurity ravaging the hearts and minds of our pastors.
It’s more normal than you think. It is way more prevalent than we pastors want to admit.
We cover it up with humor. We over-compensate with harsh communication (words and tones). We cling to irrelevant or unproductive habits, tactics, and programs. Pick your crutch…we all have one.
My admission has nothing to do with settling for the “hand that was dealt” to me. It’s time to bring it out in the open. Then enemy works in the shadows. Jesus brings light into the darkness. If we’re gonna attack what grows in the darkness, it’s time to bring it into the light.
One of the greatest areas of insecurity is in our preaching.
I love it. It’s candy to me. This formerly quiet introverted kid LOVES to preach. But for the betterment of the past 18 years of ministry, out of my insecurities, I struggled with letting go of the pulpit. I’ll admit, I’ve gotten way better. I love (as well as Kfirst) to hear our staff whether it’s preaching, small group, music, etc. They are gifted with their voice and style of presentation. But I look back at years of ministry to students and adults and, quite frankly, I feel I deprived them. I gave them one voice. Some will call it “being protective as a shepherd.” I understand that and I do protect who’s preaching in our church. But let’s call it for what it is:
Here’s 4 reasons why I shouldn’t preach all the time on Sundays…
1. My congregation needs outside voices besides mine. My insecurities want people to be dependent upon my voice/style alone. Gird your loins for this, but you are not the only one with an ability to speak into the people you pastor. Take another breath and ready yourself again…Some people may be better equipped to speak into life-situations and/or subjects than their pastor. I deal with depression and have no issue preaching about it. But having an outside voice deal with it like John Opalewski can, I feel, bring a freshness and strategic focus to a sensitive subject. Use outside preachers. Use staff. Bring in missionaries and/or evangelists you network with. Disciple volunteers if you don’t have a staff. But get out of the pulpit and let someone speak besides you.
2. My pride needs to be in check. Preaching is what preachers do. But insecurity wants to convince me to make Sunday AMs all about me. I need to remind myself I’m not the “end-all” of preachers. “Recognition” and “desire” are two seductive temptresses. They seduce us into wanting to build our own little Empire instead of the Kingdom. When you hear that people only want to hear you, there’s a side of you that craves to hear that. What side of you wants that? The ego. Your staff, elders, missionaries, etc stepping into the pulpit brings you the rushing reality that the “preaching sun” doesn’t rise and fall on you. I love when I hear our members talk about how much they love to hear our staff. It’s not a shot against me. It’s a plus for the Kingdom.
3. I preach better if my “preaching voice” is rested. Insecurity makes me want to overcompensate and preach beyond my physical, mental, and spiritual capability. We could power through like they did in the “old days.” They preached Sunday AM, PM, Wednesday, etc. But with the amount of burnout and abusive preaching I’ve seen, I believe if our preachers properly rested they would be refreshed and preach better. My preaching voices has huge amounts of preparation in prayer, word, study, and coffee. A rested preacher is a better preacher. I’ll admit, I never leave “sermon-preparation” mode. I’m always on the clock as I view life as a constant narrative of what God is speaking to me (plus life hands you amazing sermon illustrations…but that’s for another blog). Creating a system to collect my ideas and stories has helped.
4. Brings a Kingdom strategy. Insecurity says to bring speakers only at the times where the calendar brings lighter attendance and/or when I’m on vacation. Similar to #1, strategically bringing in key preachers from inside your church or outside the congregation can help you build a sermon-strategy for your church. Instead of taking your preaching calendar one Sunday at a time, this forces you to plan ahead. That way, you can bring different emphasis throughout the year as well as prevent preaching burn-out. Forward planning and prayer creates a healthy sermon climate for your congregation to grow as well as for you to plan and be a stronger preacher..
I don’t think I’m the only one to struggle with this, but it’s time to bring the struggle into the light. Age of the isolated, insecure Diva Pastor has passed where the church is supposed to revolve around the Lead Pastor. Insecurity wants the diva to cling to the spotlight for fear of losing something. But we need to remember: The church doesn’t belong to me. It’s His bride and not mine. And if we let the church be about Jesus, He will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. I’m not an owner of what belongs to another. I am a steward of the Kingdom and everything I do must point towards Him.
Love Jesus. Love your spouse. Love your kids. Love your church. (in that order)
Thanks for letting me ramble…