Preaching your first sermon at a new church is a stressful activity. Especially when you’re an Associate Pastor.
If you make a bad first impression, you won’t have a chance to redeem it for at least another month. On top of that, alot of people may not come to the next service where you’re preaching because they’re thinking, “the Senior Pastor is taking a day off so we might as well too, especially since the Associate is preaching.”
All of the above thoughts ran through my head before I preached for the first time at my new church a few weeks back.
These thoughts continually led me to prayer. I prayed to God for peace and wisdom.
In the midst of these stressful thoughts and humble prayers, I knew that the pressure I was feeling was self-induced. I had to remind myself that the people in the congregation weren’t my peers in preaching class looking for numerous ways to critique my sermon. The people in the congregation were rooting for me to do well. They didn’t count my “umms” like people used to do when I spoke at Toastmasters for Youth. They were listening for God to speak to them through me.
My text for the sermon was Acts 20:17-38, a farewell speech given by Paul to the church leaders at Ephesus.
In this speech, Paul reviews over his time with the Ephesians and emphasizes the final impression he wants to leave upon the leaders.
He offers himself up as a model leader of the church and paints a beautiful picture with his words of what a model leader should say and do: they should serve with humility, be led by the spirit, declare that people must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus, consider their lives worth nothing for the sake of the Gospel, not hesitate to speak truth when its helpful, keep watch over those they’re in leadership over, not covet the riches of others, help the weak, and remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Do those attributes sound familiar?