I Always Feel the Worst Sunday Night, or How to Pray for Your Pastor
Written by David M. Hare |
Saturday, April 1, 2023
The fruit: your pastor, along with his congregation, will fail. He will say stupid things at times, and be wrong. (Just so you know, you pastor probably gets far more complaint emails than letters of gratitude.) However, undoubtedly his ministry is not only characterized by failure. God uses His Word, almost exclusively when preached by a weak vessel. Pray that your pastor would remember the fruit, remember the times that God has used his preaching to convict, convince, change, and save.
Throughout this year of home assignment, I have had numerous opportunities to preach and share at churches all around the US. I am not much of a preacher myself, but I am glad to have the opportunity to share about what God is doing and encourage churches to think about and pray for the unreached peoples of the world. But I have noticed a funny thing that happens every time I preach: I feel the worst that I ever feel on Sunday night.
It is a little hard to describe. There is a shade of me questioning how well I preached, wondering if I kept the main thing the main thing. There is pure exhaustion from the effort it takes to teach for an hour, plus the many conversations, often with people I have never met before. There is the tension of leaving church to come home to a family that requires me to be engaged and thoughtful, no matter how tired I am. There is the emotional tug from a concern both for those we have left behind in Cameroon, as well as for the state of the American church. Whatever the cause, on Sunday nights I find myself feeling what can be best described as despair.
I have come to better understand Spurgeon who once wrote,
“I have suffered many times from severe sickness and frightful mental depression seeking almost to despair. Almost every year I’ve been laid aside for a season, for flesh and blood cannot bear the strain, at least such flesh and blood as mine. I believe, however, the affliction was necessary to me and has answered salutary ends.”
I have read many reasons people have given for Spurgeon’s depression, but honestly I think in part it may have been due to the frequency of his preaching. It is said that Spurgeon preached up to ten times a week!
I will cut to the chase: I believe that preaching is more than just a man standing on a stage presenting truth. I have taught classes, done presentations in classes, even defended my master’s thesis and did not feel this exhausted and depressed. I believe that preaching is war. Preaching is exhausting on a spiritual level, not just physical and emotional.
I certainly do not want to communicate that my experience is universal, nor Spurgeon’s. However, I think it is likely that your pastor hits their lowest point each week on Sunday night. Satan is a real enemy and he without a doubt is most active against those on the front lines. So, here are two requests that we can bring before the Lord today, and perhaps every Monday:
1. Pray that your pastor keeps his eyes off himself.
One of the most difficult aspects of preaching is that it is a task that is too large for men. If a pastor has a right view of himself, he knows that he is not worthy to speak for God. In a very real sense, it is like trying to wield a power greater than yourself. There is a reason that James warned us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). Teaching then, is not something that should be taken lightly, and if you pastor is humble, that truth will weigh on him.