Have you ever thought of this before? Pastors write 50-52 sermons a year usually and those weeks when these sermons are being written pastors are in their study interacting with the Biblical text, commentaries, and loads of other reference material to create and craft sermons built for their congregations. Do you think this time pastors spend studying the Bible should be counted as their devotional time with the Lord?
Yes and No.
Yes. Every time a pastor gets in the study to interact with a text of Scripture from the Word of God it should move upon his soul. Out of the moving, a sermon is birthed. It ought to bring the pastor to repentance, gratefulness, and tears of joy to meet God in the text so often. This is always devotional. There is a danger present in removing the devotional aspect of sermon prep. If we approach our study with a cold heart, not interested in whether or not the text moves upon us we will probably create sermons that are lectures void of power. There must be a devotional aspect present. In other words, how can we expect the text to move upon our congregations if we didn’t spend enough time in the text to have it move upon us? Meet God in the text, and craft sermons out of the worship that results.
No. Every time a pastor gets in the study to interact with a text of Scripture from the Word of God we are usually too focused on our people, not on us. For this reason, too many pastors create sermons fitted to their people rather than sermons out of a heart that has been moved on by God through the sermon text. Because of this seemingly ever-present desire in pastors to be “always preparing” for this message or that teaching, we should have another time of reading for ourselves only. It must be something you are not reading or studying to prepare for anything else. It must be totally separate from all you’re teaching. Simply, it must be for you only. For example, I am preaching through the book of Jonah currently, and I’m reading Genesis-Exodus personally. Before I prepare my sermons I do my “devotion” with God in Genesis-Exodus, asking God to let the text wash over me. After this is done, I begin the rest of the day. Emailing, blogging, writing, and yes sermon prep, in Jonah currently.
Listen to Paul Tripp say it:
It is very difficult to have the responsibility to preach or teach God’s Word each week and not have the responsibility to prepare dominate your mind every time you have a Bible in your hands. The commitment to a regular time of communion with your Lord stimulates the battle in your heart between the essentiality of private worship and the necessity of adequate preparation. In God’s plan these are not mutual exclusive, nor do they compete with one another. As I have often said, God will not call us to a task that would necessitate our disobeying Him in another area. Yet it is very difficult to keep these two aspects of your calling in their proper place.
So, do I think it is a must to do another devotional type of reading completely outside the sermon text for the health of the every pastor? No. But for me? Yes, it sure helps me keep the two callings of robust preparation and deep devotion in harmony.