I still remember my first real sermon. It was on a Sunday night in a small country church. They’d asked me to fill in that night while their preacher was gone and this teenager was really nervous about it. I’d done a couple of short Wednesday night devotionals, but NEVER a real Sunday sermon.
I remember that night vividly. I can remember my topic and even the points of my sermon. I still remember the song I decided to lead during the sermon that went along with the topic of my lesson. What I remember most was that none of it went well. I was so nervous I could barely talk. It just so happened that the song I chose to lead, NO one knew. I pretty much did a solo during the whole song, which was pure terror to this teenage boy. The most painful thing that evening was knowing that those poor people had to sit through the worst sermon ever.
As I stepped down from the pulpit following the sermon I remember thinking, “I’ll NEVER do that again. I’m just not cut out for preaching.” As customary, the preacher was to go to the back after the sermon and shake hands with everyone as they left. I took the long dreaded walk from the front to the back. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I prayed that the Lord would just come back right then and take us all to heaven.
“Whatever you do, don’t stop preaching.”
While walking to the back, I looked up and there stood my dad. He’d driven an hour to come hear me preach my first sermon. I gave him a half smile, ducked my head and took my place by the door to shake hands with everyone as they left. As people walked by I got more than a few tips on things I could do better but most people that were nice enough to just smile and walk on by. Then my dad walked by. He stuck out his hand and shook mine, then smiled and said,“Son, that is by far the best sermon I’ve ever heard.” Then he added, “Whatever you do, don’t stop preaching.”
Twenty-five years later, I’m thankful for two things …
- I’m thankful that God put my Dad there that night when I preached that horrible sermon.
- I’m glad that I took my Dad’s advice.