Advice From a Master

Martin Luther offered this advice to a discouraged preacher:

If Peter and Paul were here, they would scold you because you wish right off to be as accomplished as they. Crawling is something, even if one is unable to walk. Do your best. If you cannot preach an hour, then preach a half an hour or a quarter of an hour. Do not try to imitate other people. Center on the shortest and simplest points, which are the heart of the matter, and leave the rest to God. Look soley to his honor and not to applause.
[from Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther]

This is good advice—something I’ll take into account when I preach in a couple of weeks. Sadly, I’ve seen many preachers who will belabor a sermon just to make it last the alotted 30 minutes. I’ve also seen many preachers who imitate others. One pet peeve of mine is when preachers have a different “preaching voice” that sounds nothing like the voice they use in conversation.

Thankfully, God can use the most inept of preachers to send forth his word. As the old saying goes (forgive the crudity, but since we’re talking about Luther…), “God spoke to Balaam through an ass, and he’s been speaking through asses ever since…”