Congregations rather like a preacher to talk about himself. They always sit up and show a fresh interest if he starts doing so. ‘Ah!’, they say, ‘how interesting!’ when he has told them what happened to him!…
Congregations often spoil preachers; they encourage them to do certain wrong things. If the preacher starts speaking to their flesh they will respond, and they will show an interest which they were not showing in his doctrine, and the temptation to him is to give them more of the flesh, and to talk more about himself, and they will like it. They will smile, and they will enjoy it, and they will say, ‘It’s wonderful, and we have had a great time!’ And in the meantime, Christ has been forgotten, and the spiritual message has not been emphasized and has not been stressed.Romans, vol 1; Chapter 16, p 211-212
I used to preach for a Christian youth camp. I was on staff for ten weeks, and would preach the same messages every week for the kids that were at camp that week.
I discovered as the summer went on that if a group had laughed at a story the week before, I would embellish the story a little more the following week. The illustrations would get longer and the Bible teaching would get shorter week after week.
I wish I could say I’ve matured and grown up since then. But the only real difference is that I don’t preach the same sermons every week. The temptation to talk more about me than about Jesus is just as real for me as a father and grandfather as it was when I was a single college student. It’s what congregations give the most positive feedback on.
Oh, Lord, let me preach only and always to please you, and magnify you, and bring glory to you. Let self be abased.
This year I’m trying to read through Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ 14 volume exposition of Romans. Lloyd-Jones began teaching through Romans on Friday nights at Westminster Chapel in London on October 7, 1955. Thirteen years later, at the end of chapter 14, he was forced to retire from the pulpit ministry because of illness. He spent the rest of his life editing the manuscripts of his sermons. All his sermons were recorded on tape, and are available at https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/book-of-romans/