5 Major Distractions in Sermon PreparationNovember 16, 2013
Sunday is always coming. Any preacher who reads this understands the constant weight and pressure of getting ready for the next time. By “the next time” I mean preaching. Rarely a day goes by when I am not making some kind of preparation for the next message. Word studies, commentaries, exposition, exegesis, reference material, tons of notes, opened apps, and books galore fill my desk on a daily basis. And even though I am inundated with resources, thoughts, and ideas I do get distracted. At times I feel as though the smallest of diversions completely thwart my attention, affection, and attendance to sermon preparation. If not carefully guarded, we can spend countless hours doing unproductive, unsolicited, tedious, non-essential things. Although anything, when taken out of proper context, can be a distraction, I have found a few major things that stand in the way of sermon preparation.
1. Social Media and Technology
I use it, I like it, I embrace it; I assure you, I am not against it. But in all honestly, it can, at times, occupy a lot of my time. Like most of you, I study with the computer on. And that can be dangerous. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emails, and text messaging are easily accessible during my sermon preparation. I will admit, there have been times I have been thrown off track in my preparation because I felt the need to check my status, or read some idiotic post. I have learned to shut it off as much as possible. This is a conscientious effort on my part.
2. Saturday Sporting Events
No one enjoys football on Saturdays any more than I do. When it comes to Georgia Football, I am in – all the way. I love the hype, the analysis, the drama, and the rivalry of the game. There is nothing wrong with sports. Playing football greatly influenced me during my teen years in a positive way. But if I am not careful, I can allow all the propaganda from the big game to keep me away from my biggest responsibilities.
3. Extracurricular Activities
I try to stay away from meaningless controversy that divides the fellowship of like-minded brethren, so I will spare you with a list of activities that I find fun or boring. But we all have hobbies and habits that we enjoy. There was a time I really enjoyed coin-collecting ( I know, I am a nerd); but I allowed that hobby to detract me from precious time in the Word. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, do not allow those activities to manipulate your time with God.
4. Overcrowded Calendar and Schedule
The preacher is busy. Always going, always giving, always heading to the next stop. The older I get, the more precious time becomes to me. I want to make sure I spend that time for the honor and glory of God. A preacher’s datebook needs to be maintained with a discerning spirit. Some meetings, some engagements are not necessary, and should be dropped. The greatest thing you can give your church member is a message that has been filtered through meditation, prayer, and spiritual consideration.
5. A Disengaged Heart
The biggest problem with sermon preparation is a disengaged heart. When our heart is distant from God, we actually look for diversions. A heart that is unfixed will become easily distracted by the smallest and insignificant issues.
Sermon preparation is not just notes, facts, and proper exegesis. It is getting the soul prepared. It is getting into the presence of God with the intent to take His very words to a group of people who need to hear from heaven. Guard your heart carefully and cautiously. As E.M. Bounds said, “The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself. His most difficult and laborious work must be with himself. A preacher who is enslaved to his study can be free in his pulpit”