FIRST-PERSON: The preaching privilege

Tags: ministry

O'FALLON, Ill. (BP) -- The ringing of my phone jarred me awake at 2:55 on Sunday morning. 2:55! Vaguely conscious, I mumbled some sort of greeting.

Someone on the other line said something about being with a security company and that an alarm was going off at our church. Slowly, the fog in my brain began to lift and I asked a few questions.

Apparently, the wind had caused an unlocked door to set off an alarm. No motion detectors were activated so it seemed all was well. After some additional words the phone call ended.

It was nearly 3 a.m.

Since becoming a pastor years ago, Saturday night sleep has always been fitful. I toss and turn. I wonder if I have the right illustration and if I'm transitioning well to the second point and beyond.

Not 30 minutes later, the power went out at our house. Storms in the area had obviously damaged something. I lay in the sudden quiet of our bedroom, wondering about the weather and whether the power would come back on and if I was closing the upcoming sermon with the right oomph.

I decided sleep was just going to have to wait. At 3:30 on Sunday morning I stumbled around to find a candle. Careful not to awaken my sleeping wife, I showered and shaved by candlelight, dressed and thought about whether my sermon introduction was adequate.

Reaching the kitchen, I was chagrined to discover that the lack of power also meant there was no coffee.

I drove to the church in the darkness. How relieved I was to discover it had power. Apparently the outage was restricted to our small subdivision. I unlocked the building, turned off the security system and made my way to my office.

I thought to pray for those who would be coming to worship services. I envied them as they slumbered in sweet oblivion to my early morning struggles. But I prayed they would experience the presence of the Lord as they gathered for worship and small group Bible studies in just a few hours.

I preached God's Word later that morning. God gave me His grace. I was tired, but energized by the opportunity to preach. I did say "Treasure earthly things" when I meant to say "Treasure eternal things" a couple of times in the first service. But the people were forgiving and understood what I meant to say -- I think. Someone made coffee for the small groups and I got to drink enough to awaken a bit more.

What a privilege to preach the Bible, point people to Jesus and encourage others in faith. All the difficulties and challenges and obstacles are small when compared to that great calling. Being a pastor -- or ministry leader or Sunday School teacher -- is a blessing so much greater than any of our small issues. These problems are small and God's message is so great.

This Sunday, as I do most Sundays, I will preach the timeless truths of God to people in need of that truth. I might be a bit tired. Maybe I won't have slept as well as I could have wished.

But I will get to preach. And I don't want to forget how much that matters.

Doug Munton, online at dougmunton.com, is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in O'Fallon, Ill., and a former first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Download Story