4 Reasons You’re Not Preaching with Conviction
Why am I not preaching with conviction? Why do I preach as though I don’t even believe the message I’m delivering?
It’s a question many preachers have asked themselves as they drive home and ponder their 40-minute monologue in the pulpit. In this mental wrestling match, a preacher searches for his own sanity, at times at a loss for any explanation at all. Myriad of thoughts may come to mind. A preacher may recount his inadequacy to speak such holy truths, and he’s right. Who is adequate for such things? (2 Corinthians 2:16). He may also consider his own weaknesses and be reminded that Christ is exalted in such weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). These realities are important for every preacher to consider.
But are there other factors that must be faced? Why is it that some men seem to preach with a holy boldness while others remain largely unconvincing in their message? Why is it that some men are so underwhelming when they take the pulpit that even the most infantile believer can see that the preacher doesn’t even believe his own message?
These may not be the easiest truths to wrestle with, but addressing them is a healthy habit for every preacher of God’s word when wondering, why am I not preaching with conviction?
1. You’re not living the truths you’re trying to preach
It takes conviction and integrity to say like Paul, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Whether it be a text on giving, purity, marriage, gender roles, sin, missions, the gospel, or faithfulness, you’re not preaching with conviction because you aren’t walking in obedience (or even pursuing it) in these areas yourself. How can a man stand up to preach the very commands of God with conviction when his life does not reflect such convictions? A simple test is this: ask your wife if she believes you’re living what you just preached. Then, don’t make a single excuse for yourself no matter what she says. If you’re private life isn’t backing your public ministry, it’s time to confess your disobedience to the Lord, talk with your wife and fellow elders, and formulate a plan of accountability for the good of your soul. We must love Christ more than the pulpit. That means being willing to step away from preaching if we cannot live what the text is calling for.
2. You’re not praying for the people you’re preaching to
Few things are more telling than a man who takes the pulpit to preach but doesn’t bow his knees to pray for those he preaches to. You must agonize over their souls, their marriages, their children, their hearts, their minds, their future, and the results of your preaching. You must expect in faith that God will finish the work He has begun (Philippians 1:6) while at the same time accepting the weight of your responsibility to pray! A man who lacks conviction in the pulpit has forgotten the deep passion he must have for the hearts of the hearer. Have you shed tears for them in your prayer chamber before preaching at them in your pulpit? If not, you’re only fooling yourself into thinking God will do much through your preaching. The inevitable downgrade of your preaching ministry has already begun.
3. You’re not laboring diligently in study
I’ll never forget the worst sermon I ever preached. It was early in ministry after a few good sermons (so I was told). I was preaching out of John 10 and started going through the motions in study. I took preaching for granted and paid the price. I was lazy. I didn’t do the work. I didn’t pray hard and agonize over the text in study. I was on cruise control. Then, desperate to take a short cut, I did one of the most foolish things I have ever done to prepare for a message. I watched a well known preacher preach the text to see how he got to his conclusions and then I tried to copy him! The result? No conviction and a crash landing that got me chewed out by my mentor. I didn’t even copy the other preacher properly! The text was a “fog” to me, and therefore, a total blackout for the church. I was the blind leading the blind! Preparation in study leads to conviction in the pulpit.
4. You’re not gifted or called to preach
Everybody wants to be a preacher these days. Young men, and old men, want the title, the authority, and the privilege of preaching but many lack the giftedness to do it. If you’re not preaching with conviction, it may be that you are not called to preach or gifted to do so. There are many who are self-appointed preachers or simply do it because they want to follow in the footsteps of a hero in the faith, but truth and time go hand-in-hand. You may occupy a pulpit but if no one is moved in the pew, you may not be called to preach. Do you have trusted men in your life who are gifted preachers and tell it like it is? Ask them if they are moved by your preaching. Ask them to assess your preaching ministry and accept their correction, admonition, or even denial of your ability as an affirmation of your next step. Don’t assume that the opportunity to preach means you are gifted to preach.
While not all of these may be applicable, all of them can be helpful for a preacher to assess his heart and his ability to deliver God’s word to God’s people.
Preaching is a high and holy calling.