Have you ever preached a sermon???? Put it on your bucket list. It looks so effortless when your pastor gets up there and just starts going on and on and you hang on every word (on a good day) and before you know it, it's been half an hour and you leave with things on your mind to ponder. At my church I always leave feeling encouraged and challenged.
My pastor, Juan, is a baby. I mean, I'm old enough to be his mother. English is his second language and he just got his bachelor's degree. But that man can preach! He has something to say and he says it with passion, conviction and eloquence (on a good day, that is). He makes it look so easy.
I've preached three different sermons since I've been at the church. Here's what happened:
Sermon #1. Juan was planning to be away and asked me to sub. Sure. No problaymo, Juanito. I spoke about Joseph. Not the father of Jesus, but the other Joseph, the one in the Old Testament who got sold by his brothers, thrown into prison, suffered way too much, then became the king's sidekick and ended up saving his family. It's a great story, hard to mess up. I wrote out my message, practiced in front of the cat, then spoke from an outline. I made it safely through but I can say without hesitation, I was scared to death and am sure few, if any, people walked away feeling encouraged or challenged (unless they were encouraged to know that Juan was returning the next week).
Sermon #2. Juan was away again and asked me to sub. I guess everyone had been polite when he asked them how I did. Anyway, I'm a career teacher so I know how to learn. This time I would not put myself through that same ordeal. I wrote out my sermon (and I think it was a good one, it was from my heart) and I read it verbatim from the pulpit. This worked much better for me because the chance of getting lost or rambling was greatly reduced. In the second service, however, my papers were out of order so I had to wing it for a while. But I knew what I was going to say and it was fine.
Sermon# 3. This weekend. Juan was NOT out of town but asked me to speak about my adventures in Alaska this summer. No problaymo, Juanito. I'll just write it all out, read it word-for-word and consider the congregation shared with. So I wrote it out, but something in me kept saying, "No, silly, don't read it. Tell everyone what you did. Tell them what you want to tell them." My three kids were there, and Juan. But I really wanted to just speak it. So I did. And somehow God calmed me (it may have been the xanax I took) and led me straight through it. It wasn't so hard and I'm REALLY glad I got to share my story. I think some people were even encouraged and challenged.
You really should do this in your lifetime. It will give you a whole new appreciation for your pastor (on a good day, that is).