This week I said “ouch” more than once. The thing that might surprise you is that my “ouches” came while I was studying and doing my sermon prep.
This happened because as I study and prepare I run my own actions/thoughts through the message first. Adding to the pain is that I live with the sermon all week, or even longer when the sermon has been outlined early as a part of a sermon series.
This week has been an extremely painful week of preparation. The sermon this week is the 6th in a 7 part series entitled “7 Building Blocks of Great Relationships”. Each week we have taken one word and looked at what God’s Word says about how we must apply it to our relationships. The word this week is “forgiveness”. The word itself explains my pain this week doesn’t it?
You may not have thought a lot about how your pastor lives with the sermon for much longer that the 25 to 30 minutes during which he/she presents it to the congregation.
Forgiveness is critical for any and all relationships and as a pastor I am not immune to the need to forgive people with whom I have a relationship. Multiply that the number of people in the congregation and add it to the normal relationships that build through a lifetime. It is not something that I have had deep seated issues with, but it is not always automatic that I forgive others either. Also, it is not always automatic that I embrace my own forgiveness. Can you relate?
So this week I have done a lot of personal work in my own heart, mind and soul making sure that I am clear on forgiveness personally. I have said “ouch” aloud more than a few times this week in my study and preparation. The subject is so critical that it has also had me shedding tears as I have typed, as I have prayed and even while I have been reading this week. Because I am aware that it will be a painful issue for most people who will be in my churches as I share this sermon. This is not really one that you preach, it is one that you share as a fellow learner in my walk with Christ.
The good news is that God is the great healer, especially in the healing of wounds in relationships. My prayer is that I will be able to share clearly, compassionately and convincingly. Because I desperately want to see people have victory in this area of their relationships. In fact I have become convinced as I have wrestled in my studying and preparing this week that this issue of forgiveness, and the bigger issue of unforgiveness, is a major issue in whether the churches I pastor will see God do all that He desires to do among us.
So I will endure a few more “ouches” as I continue to pray and prepare until I share this message.