How Do I Invest In My Gift of Preaching?

Years ago I started preaching regularly at a church in the Midwest. At the end of the service, lines would form down front where people would ask for prayer and share their thoughts on the message. The more I preached, it led to better connection with the congregation, which led to more honest feedback about my message. A trend began to develop where I would hear people say something like this:

“Pastor Steve, that was a great message this morning; you’ve gotten so much better since when you first began.”

“There is a big difference between preaching and being coached to maximize.”—@steveryancarter

“Today really spoke to me, Pastor Steve, which is crazy because when you first started, I didn’t like you at all.”

To be honest, these backhanded compliments created a lot of quick-witted, potentially sinful responses in my mind. But one day I was doing a study on the relationship between Paul and Timothy and came across a few verses that spoke deeply to me.

Be Diligent

As the Apostle Paul was wrapping up his letter to his protégé Timothy, he implored him with these words: “Do not neglect your gift . . . Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:14-15).

  1. Do not neglect your gift
  2. Be diligent in these matters
  3. Give yourself wholly to them
  4. Let everyone see your progress

When it comes to preaching development, we often spend years in Bible college and seminary taking a handful of classes. From there we might find a few podcasts of our favorite teachers or a book every couple of years on communication; but if we’re really honest, many of us have neglected the ongoing development of our preaching gift. Sure, we communicate quite regularly, but there is a big difference between preaching and being coached to maximize.

Paul told Timothy not to neglect this kind of development, to be diligent and give yourself fully to maximizing the full potential of your gift—because if people can see your progress, your hunger to maximize your spiritual gift that will only help the Kingdom win, the church to grow, and encourage others to go and do likewise.

Honest question—have you neglected your preaching gift? How diligent have you been in developing this gift over the last few years?

Preaching Matters

When I read that passage from 1 Timothy and thought about what I was hearing from my congregation about my messages, I began to realize something: I had gotten better. They were actually seeing my progress. My hard work of getting personal coaching from a few great communicators and being in a cohort with other emerging voices was starting to pay off. My church could feel it.

“Have you neglected your preaching gift?”—@steveryancarter

Over the past two decades I’ve been amazed at the amount of money churches spend on leadership development in direct comparison to what they spend on improving their communication gift. Please don’t hear me wrong—leadership matters. But so does great preaching.

For the past few years I’ve been brainstorming and implementing new ways to help communicators not neglect their gift. In the past few months, CDF Capital, Sean Morgan, and myself have started a joint venture called Craft & Character where we will help senior leaders, emerging voices, and teaching pastors embody 1 Timothy 4 through trainings, cohorts, personal coaching, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, and conferences.