Planning to Speak
Today as most day’s I have worked on the messages that I am planning to preach over the next days, weeks, and months. I have organized and filed and printed notes and an array of other things.
Between today and the end of the month of April, I have a total of 50 messages to prepare. Most of these are sermons, either on Sunday morning and Sunday night, to Wednesday evenings with the Youth at Out Of The Box, to FCA, Life Groups, and other special invitations that come from various places. There will no doubt be others added before the end April comes.
How does one prepare to speak this many times?
First of all it takes a calling and I believe that God has placed this call on my life. Because of the call, I have prepared continually over the course of the past 25 years. I have spent many hours in study and preparation for such a time as this. But beyond that, how does one stay current and up to date on the needs of people and their lives today, in order to communicate timeless truths in ways that meet their immediate needs.
Here are some of the ways that I meet these challenges, daily disciplines that I practice in order to get the job done.
I read scripture daily. I am currently on a plan with many others in the church to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in the course of this year, in 15 minutes a day, six days a week.
I make it a habit to read one book each week, most of these being by Christian authors and about issues and things that are in line with what I am preaching and teaching currently. However, I will often read other things outside the Christian realm.
I listen to podcasts of pastors and leaders that I respect and gain inspiration and knowledge from. I listen to approximately three sermons and or leadership sessions each week.
I read blog posts, twitter, and facebook updates on a continual basis, and I gain a lot of insight from these posts that keep me abreast of what the pulse of the people is.
I subscribe to the following. USA Today, Outreach Magazine, Bible Study Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Rotary Magazine, and Runners World. I have just added a trial subscription to Leadership Magazine.
I use Google Reader to work through about 40 blogs each day, just reading the ones that look to be helpful.
Something that probably won’t make a lot of sense to many is Running. I run about 20 miles per week or that is my goal for this year. Running does many things for me, it allows the release of stress, the maintenance of health, and a great way to fellowship with friends. And believe it or not, fellowship does happen. In a typical 6 mile run, my running partner and I will talk the entire time.
Some may be saying, with all of this how would one have the time to live life??? The truth is, I live life to the fullest because of these things. I watch very little television, although I love “Law and Order”, and will watch this show as often as I can. I do enjoy watching the news but read most of the news either in USA Today or online. We don’t have cable television for two reasons, number one we don’t have the time to watch more than we already do with local stations and number two, we cannot justify paying so much money for such a time waster.
I take time for my family every day, it is a priority for us as a family to have evening meals together and we do almost every day. We go out as the larger family at least once each week and many times we get to do this more than once. We often have breakfast as a family and this is my favorite meal to prepare for the family. On my days off we either hang out at home or go on shopping trips together. We love to ride 4 wheelers and build campfires and just sit and talk. I have learned, however just this past year that when I go on vacation, I really go on vacation. I don’t look at e-mails and I leave Social Media alone. I do check voice mails in case of emergencies, this past year in October was the first time I have truly done this in many years but it was great and I am going to make it part of my life.
I do most of my study between the hours of 530 and 8am while the family is in bed asleep. It is almost impossible to do after everyone gets up and it is impossible to accomplish in the church office. Church office hours are a time where people need to feel the freedom and welcome to come and chat. This is where friendships are built and relationships are strengthened. This is also a time for the work of the ministry to be planned and carried out. It is just a fact of the ministry, most of the ministers study is done hid away in the still of their home or in a coffee shop somewhere in a corner. (I really wish Hillsville had a Coffee Shop, open early.)
That said, it is time for me to get ready and go to the office. Today I meet with Rotary and that is a place where I get to see and fellowship with people that is in sort of a different world than I am and that is refreshing. I will also be making a “Three Minute Thursday” today. Lots to do and to be honest, like John Wesley said, always in a hurry but never in haste. Make every minute count.