A verse that encourages me greatly, in preaching, is Jesus’ words in John 10:27:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
When we communicate God’s word, it gathers the sheep, the sheep come to listen, they recognise Jesus voice.
Its encouraging, because God’s truth attracts God’s people, so when I am discouraged by small numbers, this verse reminds me- God’s people listen to God’s voice, and want to hear Him speak to them through His word, and faithful preaching.
It is an encouragement to know that if we preach the word of God, God’s people will listen, and respond, and to keep preaching.
As preachers of God’s word, people will listen.
But a question to ask, is this- do you listen to yourself?
Are you listening to yourself?
Do you listen to your own sermons?
If not, why not?
It is one of the best ways, I believe, to grow as a preacher, and it’s a habit well worth developing, and prioritising early in the week.
Make it a priority to listen to your own sermons.
1.Because it’s painful.
Many preachers might not listen to their own sermons, because it’s ‘painful.’ We do not like to hear our own voice- we all know that shock the first time we heard ourselves on tape- Do I sound like that!!?? Noooo, I sound hideous! We need to push past that. Our sermon sounds different when we are ‘in front’ of it, and not ‘behind’ it.
If we have a visual recording, even better, its even more painful, it doesn’t lie- we see what others see- the nose picks, the scratching, the idiosyncrasies, the ‘uumms’ an annoying trait or habit we might not be aware of, all there to see in their splendid glory.
Our sermons don’t lie- we are exposed, and are forced to deal with what we see, and hear.
2.Because it teaches us the necessary art of critique.
As preachers, our biggest critic will always (should always?) be ourselves. So we should use it to ours (and others) advantage. Listening to our sermons develops the art of critiquing.
As I listened to myself, did I drift off in any part? If we did it listening to ourselves, its probable others might of as well. Make note of it- did I labour a point to long, repeat myself, was I boring/ dull? Make a note of it- if I did this again, I would change this section, shorten it…….
Are there any parts I would change? Should I have closed with my introduction, and opened with my conclusion? Was it too long? To short?
Listen to your sermons with a critical ear- what was good about it (lather) how could I improve my talk if I had to do it again? (shave)
3.Because its humbling.
Why should we miss out on with what we subject others to, week by week……..If we expect others to listen to us, then we should do the same- we are not ‘above ourselves’ in this way. If we do not like our own preaching, then it’s a humbling wake up call to improvement. Listening to ourselves preach is a humbling (therefore good) experience.
- Obviously, if its not happening, record yourself with the best quality recording you can. Most people record their sermons for the website, podcast, etc anyway, so use it.
- Use the time already available to listen to your sermon- in the car, while washing up, going for a walk.
- Listen with a critical ear, critique yourself. These 2 frameworks are particularly helpful:
Lather- what was good, helpful about my talk? Was I clear? Was I boring? Was I to long? Were my illustrations helpful, well placed? Was my structure evident?
Shave- How could I improve my talk? If I had to do this again, what would I change?
- Listen with a pen and paper available. Write these things down. Use your findings for your next talk, what you learnt.
- Listen to yourself as close to the time you preached. That way, its still fresh in your mind, and you can use what you learnt for your next talk. I listen to my talk on Monday morning, while I go for a walk, making notes as I listen. I can honestly say, doing this has helped my preaching more than anything else. An example from the past is, as I listened to myself, I noticed I had an upward inflection at the end of most sentences, which I found repetitive and annoying. It is something I now work on, to be more ‘listenable.’
- Join a preaching group, to hone your skills, help others in their preaching, and to be critiqued, for all the above reasons. EPT offers Lather and Shave groups in various locations. Join one.
Are you listening to yourself? If not, start now. I assure you, your preaching will improve.