What are you trying to do?

This morning God niggled me as I mused about the sermon I’m prepping for Sunday. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been on a roll—preaching on the book of John has been a delight, and some pretty epic sermons have sprung from this divinely inspired journey. God has been at work, he’s been using me, and it’s been a lot of fun. Hard work, but fun. Watching God stun people with words that cut through junk and reveal life-changing truths has been amazing to say the least. There have been quite a few more butts filling the pews this fall, and they seem eager to hear what God has to say through my teaching.

My goal, mind you, hasn’t been to wow people. Each week I’ve grappled with the text, letting it run roughshod through my own heart before it leaps from my mouth full of passion and power. I’ve prayed for impact, prayed for life-change. I’ve clung to Jesus, asked him what he wanted to say through his word, preached from the heart, and trusted the Holy Spirit to work far beyond my clumsy words could reach.

This morning, though, something had shifted.

I’m preaching on the paralytic at the pool. You know the one—the “do you want to get well” passage in John 5 we’ve heard a hundred times already. My heart sank a little as I read it over yesterday, eventually forming words something like these: Hmmm. Not sure this one is going to be a zinger. I wonder… how can I make itzing?

Do you see it? The poison? My focus had shifted from crafting the message God wanted me to speak into preparing a sermon people would think was amazing.

Now, though, I think I’m back on track. God exposed that ugly motive in me this morning. How? It was simple, really. I woke up and realized I was thinking about what I hoped people would SAY about the message, instead of what they would DO about it. Here, now, I confess that motive as vile and stupid. Here and now, I renounce it as selfish and proud. I know deep down that my sheep are better off hearing me preach from the phone book anointed by God than hearing a sparkling mound of wit spewed from my brain and delivered in my own strength.

So back to the question: What was I trying to do?

“I was trying to prepare a sermon.”

What kind of sermon?

“One that would change lives.”

No you weren’t. You were trying to impress people.”


Enough of me for now. What are YOU trying to do? 

A simple test: Think of what you hope happens as a result of what you’re doing. Be honest. Any outcome involving what people think of you is probably muddling your motives and it’s time to come clean.

Is there something in your life that began with noble motives but may have been corrupted by pride or selfishness?