One of the best things about pastoring is the privilege of preaching God’s Word, and when God is moving and you feel close to Him and inspired, there is perhaps nothing more humbling and satisfying than preaching. But what about those times when you are not feeling close to God? What do you do when the week has been incredibly long, and you feel like you’ve given all the ministry you can give? The truth is you still must preach at the end of the longest week, and you still must be ready to minister to the congregation.
In this post, we will tackle the hard topic of what to do when you don’t feel like preaching, and we will provide some practical advice for overcoming this very common and very real issue.
First, plan for it. Knowing that every pastor, sooner or later, will face a challenging week and feel too drained to preach, we suggest having a plan in place for handling this issue. Ideally, the church will provide scheduled vacations or sabbaticals to the pastor, which can go a very long way in preventing burnout and fatigue. However, the smaller churches with little staff may not be able to provide extended leave. In such a case, charge a deacon, elder, or trustee with having a sermon ready to go for the Sunday when the pastor is sick, overwhelmed, or just plain burned-out.
Second, remind yourself weekly of the charge to preach the Word, and rely on God’s strength to stand and deliver the Gospel. Romans 10:14 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” What an awesome power exists in preaching! Take heart in knowing that no matter how you feel, God will sustain you and provide you with His energy as you faithfully preach the Word.
Third, know the power of the Gospel is not dependent upon your abilities, emotions, or physical strength, but rather is dependent entirely upon God’s power. As a pastor, you are preaching the Word of God, and the Word itself possesses all the strength you need to be effective and inspiring as you preach. God says in Isaiah 55:11. “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty.” If you dutifully and faithfully preach God’s Word, it will not return empty. It will not be ineffective. It will not be without inspiration. And this is all because of God’s power and provision found in His holy Word.
Pastoring is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There will be times when you feel unworthy and drained as you step into the pulpit, and there will be times when you feel empowered and confident. Either way, you can rest assured that God is with you and His powerful Word will go forth from your mouth and perform the work He has planned since the beginning of time.