i’ve done a lot of things to make money in my life: i’ve worked construction, coached, taught in college, ran an athletic program at a community boy’s club, was the director of a college recreation and intramural program, lived as a residence hall manager. i’ve made a little money on the side laying ceramic tile. i’ve even been contracted as a speaker, a consultant, and a marriage and family counselor.
but honestly, i’ve never really known an occupational life other than ministry.
from the age of 18 until i turned 52 or 53, my life was characterized by youth ministry. it was what i did. in many ways, it was who i was. it was a life commitment. it was my passion and my trade. i studied it…taught it…lived and breathed it. it was what i gave myself wholeheartedly to.
i planned…organized…studied…taught…discipled…counseled…ran programs…directed camps…oversaw trips and events…managed resources…fixed buses…patched tents…planned menus…played the guitar and lead bands…made messes…cleaned messes…spent money…broke things…met with kids for cokes…went to seventh-grade girls volleyball games…hiked trails…took kids to other countries…bartered…traded…hustled. and slept half of the nights in my life in a sleeping bag. with earplugs.
what does this have to do with my weekly review? nothing. and everything.
my week looks different these days. oh, i still organize and teach and counsel and run programs and manage resources and make messes and meet with people. and i still break things.
but i’m taking preaching more seriously now.
i’ve been preaching almost every sunday at north point for the past eight years…even while i was still doing youth ministry. i cleaned up some of my files recently, and realized that i have written about 375 sermons during these years.
for most of those years, writing a sermon was never the priority of my week. youth ministry was.
now it’s a priority. most weeks, it is the priority. the longer i do this, the harder…and easier…it gets. don’t misunderstand.
i don’t believe, for a second, that the weekly sermon people get at north point is the most important time of the week. i know a lot of preachers think it is, but i basically think their over-inflated egos have gotten the best of them. geez, i don’t even believe it’s the most important part of our sunday morning get togethers. far from it.
but i do believe it’s important. and why i am preparing in completely different ways than i ever did before. writing a sermon is a week-long process. i work on it everyday. it rolls around in my heart and mind all day long. it’s kind of like an extended conversation i am having with god over a six-day period.
in the past, it used to be the ominous cloud…sometimes the black cloud…that hovered over every part of my weekly schedule.
now, it’s more like the umbrella that shadows my week…a gives structure and protection to my days.