Preaching on Sunday morning is, for me, the most exhilarating part of my calling! I cannot wait to step into the pulpit at my church and deliver that which has been simmering in me for the past week (and, in essence, for my entire Christian experience!). The prayer, the study, the compilation—ultimately coming to fruition in prayerful delivery, aiming to be clear and to put the groceries on the bottom shelf.
Sunday afternoons, however, are more exhausting than at any other time of the week. I’m not in bad shape, mind you. I exercise, eat well, and have plenty of energy for the task to which Christ called me. So why do I feel exhausted?
Turns out I’m not alone! Faithful pastors all over feel this way after preaching on Sunday. Some outsiders may say that there is something unspiritual about the pastor who endures this. However, this is not so by and large.
So why do most pastors and preachers feel so exhausted after preaching?
It’s Work! It’s a labor of love, to be sure—but it’s still labor. Studies have shown that the energy used for preaching a 30 minute sermon is the equivalent of an 8-hour work day. Hours are spent the week prior in prayer, study, and more prayer and more study! The main priority of a pastor’s ministry is preaching—so much of our energy is put into this endeavor that an adrenaline builds up! The Spirit begins to work in the preacher as the preacher works out the Spirit’s message! While the Spirit at times just brings the message, He also intends to give us the ‘want-to’ to mine out what God’s Word has to say from a specific passage.
Passion! Preachers work their salt are those who are passionate about Christ, the gospel, His Word, His church and the lost. Paul told the Corinthian church that “the love of Christ compels me’ (2 Corinthians 5:14). Preachers do not simply inform, their goal is to persuade to transform! While God is sovereign over all things, He uses His Word and the preachers as His instrument—His sovereign means to His sovereign ends.
Unforeseen Issues. When one goes to the drive-thru at the bank, there is a vacuum tube that carries the container from the bank to your car. Some pastors wish this were the case: a vacuum tube from their office to the pulpit and back again. But pastors are not just preachers, they are shepherds over sheep. And part of their task is not just to deliver the Word at the church’s appointed gatherings—it’s to minister to them outside of those times as well. With that is the probability that right before the sermon, or even right after the sermon, someone will bring up an problem or an issue (neutral or otherwise) that they urgently believe needs to be addressed right them. This takes steam out of the preacher if he’s not careful. While church members should be sensitive to the nature of preaching, preachers should also be sensitive to the needs of his congregation.
A Distrust in God’s Sovereignty in Preaching. Preachers become exhausted when they believe that the preaching is all about them: their skills, their preparation, their ability to turn a phrase, to engender the proper emotion in order to elicit their desired response, etc. Preaching is not all about you! It’s about the Spirit shaping the minister as the Spirit uses that minister to shape His message. Preachers who trust in themselves will lose sleep if they didn’t get that one illustration in, that one phrase turned, or didn’t get the desired response. Paul said that they planted and watered the seeds, but God causes the growth. Minister is not about us—it’s about God-called men calling out God’s message to God’s people and to God’s world. He is the one who foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies in order to shape them into the fashion of His Son (Romans 8:29-30)! God uses imperfect vessels to do His perfect will! Trust Him over your own methods and means.
Any other reasons, preachers, why you tend to feel exhausted after preaching?