“What in the world is he doing? Does he have a health issue or is the tag on his shirt sticking him?” One of the surprising things I discovered as I began preaching regularly was that I would have thoughts while I was preaching that had nothing to do with the sermon. Sometimes the thoughts were almost conversations with myself. It was as if I would be preaching and then a part of me would just be observing and thinking other stuff. No one warned me of this phenomenon. When it first began to happen I thought I was losing it. I realize that some might argue that I never had it, but that is for another post. I knew that people listening to sermons often drift off into their own thoughts but I didn’t realize the one preaching could.
Am I the only one? I realize that many pastors might be hesitant to confess this one, so I will take your silence as a yes. I have often wondered what the listeners would think if they realized that the pastor noticed so much more than they ever thought.
At times I have the thought “Did I just say something wrong? Did I get something turned around and not realize it?” That one comes when I see a look of confusion on the faces of people while I am preaching. Then I try to do a quick rewind in my mind, while still continuing with the sermon, to see if I can figure it out.
“Do I have a spot on my shirt, or are they in a trance?” That one comes when I notice someone staring toward me, unblinking, for a disturbing amount of time. I always secretly hope they are in a trance.
“Is that clock right?” Yes, pastors wonder that one too, parishioners are not the only ones wondering what is wrong with the clock. Though I am usually wondering if it is too fast, I sense those listening have a different thought.
“Where is _______________ ?” I am sure this one is not surprising to people, but it can occupy some time in my mind during a sermon. Of course sometimes it is answered when I find them sitting somewhere other than their usual spot. Did you know that many people sit in the same place at church every week?
“Did I already say that?” This one produces a momentary look of confusion on my face. I preach from an outline with some extra notes instead of a manuscript, so once in a while I wonder if I have already said something. This happened more often when the church I was pastoring had multiple worship services.
“Did I really say that?” This is the scarier version of the above thought. This one produces a momentary look of shock on my face. It happens when I get carried away while preaching. I call it getting on a roll, my wife calls it the time when she ducks. It is also why she usually sits in the back of the worship center. That way when I say something that prompts this thought people have to turn around to see her reaction. Unfortunately I have a tendency to prompt those turnaround moments more often than I like to admit.
Do you do this? What thoughts do you have while speaking/preaching? Here’s hoping you have only positive thoughts this Sunday.