The book of Hebrews and multiple writings of Paul make it pretty clear. The longer you are a Christ follower, you should be growing deeper and deeper in your faith and walk with Christ. You should not need to be taught the same thing over and over again. In fact, you should get to a point where you are feeding yourself instead of relying on someone else to feed you.
Hebrews 5:12-14 puts it this way; 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In other words, you should get to a point in your walk with Christ that you are responsible for feeding yourself. Your own Bible study and prayer life should be helping you grow in Jesus. It even says that you should become teachers. I am not trying to argue that everyone who is a Christ follower is supposed to preach and teach, but you should be able to explain your relationship with Christ to someone who asks, instead of relying on someone else to do it for you.
At the same time, I have made a realization in my own walk, and in the way that I grow in my relationship with Jesus. Those of you that preach on a regular basis, I think you will get what I am about to say. Between our own personal devotion time, prayer life (for the church we serve and our own time with God), prepping Bible studies, Sunday School classes, and our sermons each week, it is easy to just feel drained spiritually by the end of the week. We are always teaching or preparing to teach.
Before you get the wrong idea, I am not complaining. I absolutely love my calling. There is nothing else that I want to do. Preaching the word of God is my passion. But when all we do is prepare to teach, and then teach, it is sometimes hard to find ways to continue to grow yourself. Yes, reading Scripture, spending time with God, and even reading books can help, but there is just something about hearing the word of God preached that speaks to my soul.
What I am getting out, fellow preachers and teachers, is that we need to find an outlet in which we get to hear the word of God preached. That is one of the reasons I love the age of technology that we are living in. You can easily find sermons on the internet, either audio or video files, and can listen to someone else teach God’s word.
I have not always been great at doing this though. My guess is that most of us struggle with this from time to time as well. Maybe it is that we just do not think we have the time, or that our pride gets in the way because we fear someone will be a better preacher than us. Or it could be that we just do not realize that we are struggling to refuel. That is what I realized just over the last couple of weeks. I was struggling to refuel and did not even realize it. I also thought that I did not have the time to block out everything and listen to a sermon or two.
Well now I realize that I actually do not have the time to not do this. It is vital for me to hear God’s word being presented by someone else, and for no other reason than my own personal growth. It is not for prepping an upcoming sermon or series, although I may find things that give me a new idea on how to present a certain passage or topic. It is not for me to compare my preaching to someone else. I need it for my own growth as a Christ follower.
So, I have built time into my weekly schedule to listen to one or two (or more) sermons from other ministers in the effort to help refuel, and feed my relationship with Jesus. Will I always be perfect at this? You know the answer. No! Things in ministry pop up out of nowhere, and schedules have to be flexible enough to handle the unexpected. But when I can (more often than not), I will be finding ways to listen to others preach. There are a couple of churches/ministers that I plan to start with on a weekly basis, and will go from there.
My challenge to you. Find someone you can listen to on a regular basis. Not for sermon prep, but for your own personal growth. If you are already doing this, great! If not, what is stopping you? In one of my first ministries, I had a preaching minister tell me that he preached because he could not stand to listen to anyone else preach. After I left that ministry, I found out that there were some other major issues in his life. Do not let pride get in the way. Do not let a busy schedule get in the way. Do not let the fact that you do not realize you need to be listening to others get in the way. Refuel. Listen to others present the word of God. Continue to develop your own personal walk with Christ, because if you are not filled with Him, how can you help fill others through preaching and teaching.
Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak