Obviously we cannot dictate when and if we receive words of encouragement. To covet encouraging words puts us at risk. When we do this we lust after words and make them into an idol. For the sake of our spiritual health we must avoid this temptation.
However, there is nothing wrong with pure motives. The healthy pastor/preacher should live and minister in such a way as to invite encouraging words. In this scenario your motives are pure. However, you recognize the qualities that are necessary to invite encouraging words. Do you seek to emulate those qualities each week? This caused me to analyze my sermon.
First, a sermon must present truth. Yesterday I shared a sermon from Acts 9:23-25. In this text a group of “no name” people lowered Paul over the wall in Damascus. They “held the rope” and provided protection for Paul.
This truth is universal. People need others to hold the rope for them: in marriage, church, sports, school, work, etc. The lady, who offered the compliment to me, received the truth and applied it to a family situation. I must make it my aim to present truth from God’s word each Sunday when I stand before God’s people.
Second, a sermon must meet a need. The lady told me about a family member who was pregnant and addicted to drugs. The church lady saw the truth. She realized she needed to hold the rope for the pregnant family member and her unborn baby. A sermon that does not help me on Monday will miss the mark on Sunday.
Third, a sermon must represent our best effort. I realize it is hard for us to evaluate the quality of our work. However, in our hearts we know when we have prepared well, presented well, and done our best within the time frame and circumstances of our lives.
As a boy I memorized II Tim. 2:15 from the KJV. The KJV emphasizes the word “study.” Who knows when they have studied enough? Later on I came to appreciate the word in the NKJV. The word “study” is translated “be diligent.” This word refers to the person who “makes every effort to do one’s best.” That includes study, meditation, passion and motives. Our best effort should include motives.
When that lady shared the compliment last Sunday, she connected with me. I did not swell with pride. I knew I had presented truth, met a need, and gave the best effort I could give. In a real world, more study, more preparation, and better delivery might have been possible. However, on this day I displayed the three qualities. For this I felt encouraged and affirmed by God’s spokes-person.
Men, give yourself credit. You are doing more than you realize. God is using you! Please reaffirm your commitment to the qualities I have enumerated.