Just a heads up that this originally was posted by me on a different site back on Feb 9th 2015
Last night was a first for me. A first in which I was completely unprepared for a part of the service. Let me explain. Bringing the Word, for me, is a process that comes with much work. Working through the text, working through my own thoughts, working through commentaries from other men and women who have gone before me…and prayer. And so to “bring the Word” is not something that is taken lightly. Much goes into it. Hours upon hours of work and toil. And I do my best, while guided by the Holy Spirit, to be present in the moment and to be led by Him.
This brings us to last night – and our Ash Wednesday service. The topic for this “movement” of the service was on “Renewal” and how we cannot live lives with one foot in the secular world and one foot in God’s kingdom. We cannot seek our own desires and His at the same time. And the text for the day was Psalm 51:1-17…but unfortunately I had spent my research and writings NOT in this Psalm (in Isaiah). And of course I did not realize this until I was standing up front and preaching on Renewal. After a good 10 seconds (that felt like 10 mins) I realized my error, grabbed a Bible and read the Psalm and then “winged it” from there. To say the least I felt awkward and embarrassed. I also felt that I cheated the congregation out of what could have been a very meaningful message on renewal.
But I learned a few things outside of just double-checking my texts from now on.
1) I was reminded (and hopefully reminded those at the service) that pastors are not perfect. We make mistakes. Every day. No sermon on Sunday has ever gone “perfectly” from my point-of-view…and that’s OK.
2) People extended me grace in that moment and just simply waited for me. I need to remember this…constantly. Because I am harder on myself than I probably need to be.
3) The point was still made…even if I had to “wing-it”. I knew where the Spirit was leading me on this topic and while I was not able to dig into the text and pull out “renewal” instances from the Psalm…I still spoke on renewal and allowed the Spirit to wander where He desired to go.
4) Nobody said anything after the service. Sure there were conversations about it…but I brought it up. Maybe they were embarrassed for me, maybe they knew that I obviously was fully aware of the issue (thus not wanting to make me feel worse), but in their grace and love for me they didn’t hold it against me. There were no jabs at my error. There were no snickers and awkward stares and comments. People commented on how lovely and “good” the service was. I needed that.
5) This probably won’t be the last time I mess up. So I need to move on! Learn your lesson and just keep swimming…just keep swimming….
Life is full of mistakes. We constantly open up our mouths when we should have opened our ears instead. We try to be courteous and nice to people but find that our words fall short and flat. We fail to fully prepare for something we know is coming up….and sometimes we also write a nice sermon for the wrong text.
Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Cor 2:1-5) knew he had an issue…and that issue was that sometimes he made mistakes. Paul says that when he came to them he didn’t come with “eloquence or human wisdom”. He didn’t come with strength and a vibrant voice…or a confidence in what he was doing that would put all others to shame. He says that his message and preaching were not “wise and persuasive” at times either. In fact, the only thing he “proclaimed” was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul came with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power and not so that he be lifted up but so God would be lifted up. Paul understood that he was human. He understood that the only constant thing in life is God and his power. The only hope is not in human words but in God’s power and His Spirit. The only thing that matters in life is Jesus Christ. And when Paul preached he knew that he would mess up…but that the Spirit was true and good and doing things throughout his faltering words.
Did I mess up? Yup…pretty badly in my eyes.
Was Christ preached? Yup.
Did I have to give up all “control” in that moment? You bet! I was utterly lost but knew (later on) that the Spirit was going to use this moment and share what He felt the moment needed.
Maybe it’s fitting that in the text I PLANNED on sharing (Isa 58:1-12) Isaiah speaks of how we are to treat each other the way we desire to be treated…with love and respect. And that is exactly how I was treated last night. Loved and respected.
Just My 2 Cents and Thoughts