However, there is that occasional Sunday when, even we, admit the preaching is bad. On such Sundays we do not connect. On such Sundays we feel as if we are in the wrong profession. On such Sundays we wish we had stayed in bed. On such Sundays you can tell the people were not inspired.
So, what do we do? Consider these suggestions. First, ask yourself if you did the best you could under the conditions and with the time allotted. Let’s face it, there is always room for improvement. I am not referring to that fact. I am suggesting you affirm yourself by admitting you did the best you could under the circumstances and with the time you were allotted. The fact is often we do our best and still strike out, plain and simple.
Second, don’t quit. These off Sundays can be so devastating that they may cause you to update your resume or to consider another job. I realize these devastating Sundays don’t come around on a regular basis. However, one or two a year can be fatal. Not quitting is a good reminder for all of life, not just preaching.
Third, learn from your bad Sunday. If you felt you didn’t connect it might be that you were uncomfortable with your delivery. One possible solution would be to talk through and practice your sermon more. All of us mentally rehearse our sermons, but what about being more intentional and making sure to physically practice your delivery. This can mean different things to different people depending on what in your delivery needs more practice.
Fourth, in cowboy terminology, get back on the horse. When a cowboy gets bucked off a horse, his friends will advise him to get back on. Perseverance is a needed trait in any field. Truth is, we are going to have failures. We are going to have bad Sundays. We are going to fall flat on our face. Get back on the horse. Get back in the pulpit.
Fifth, celebrate the sovereignty of God. No matter how bad our effort turns out, the bottom line is that God is in control. He can bring victory from defeat. He can bring good from bad. Even when you preach a bad sermon God can use it to touch someone’s life. Even when you preach a bad sermon God can save a lost soul.
I remember one Sunday when I was teaching about “shepherding people.” A friend of mine, who is normally cheerful, was particularly somber after the sermon. This caused me to be concerned so I asked him if something was wrong. He replied, “The sermon.” Wow, that made me ponder my ministry - or lack thereof! What I didn’t see at the time was God’s sovereignty working in his life. The sermon accomplished its purpose, but I was disturbed by my friend’s reaction.
Finally, stop beating yourself up. I am convinced all of us are harder on ourselves than even God is. He loves us! He called us! We are special in His eyes! We are not accomplishing God’s work when we pound ourselves and wallow in a pool of guilt and self-condemnation. God has more in mind for us!