Preparation is vital.
Everyone prepares. Whether it’s breakfast before your big day, dressing to impress for a big presentation. Maybe it’s stretching before a run or studying before a test. Teachers prepare for class, pastors prepare for a message.
No matter what, I want you to think about before and after… In most cases preparation before is certainly more important than what comes after. Practicing before a big game, recital, or debate. Generally speaking when I think about preaching, preparation is most important. But that’s not true. In fact, more important than even the delivery of the message is what comes after the message in your personal life.
I’m here to say, spiritually speaking, after is equally, if not, more important than the preparation. For anyone in ministry whether full time or voluntarily you can understand it this way:
You can go door-to-door and talk to countless people about your ministry. You could develop personal relationships with people, stay in contact, even get them to give towards your ministry. But there’s something interesting about who actually comes to your church. It’s most often not the people you invite. God does send the people, but I’ve seen God bless because of our obedience to go west by sending those to from the east.
This is for a couple reasons. Firstly, God wants us to know it’s not us that gets anyone to come. Secondly, God wants us to fail (so to speak) because it forces us to rely on Him.
Where preparation is vital, post-prep is more.
In politics you can understand this principle. Most people don’t like politicians because in preparation they describe their plan for when they win office. However, most often they fail to follow through, or their post-prep was never set in place. They prepared the people with what they wanted to do, but didn’t prepare for how it will happen after their win. The same thing happens to us spiritually.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Luke 21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
‘Always be prepared to give an answer’ and ‘Be always on the watch’ both say, know what you believe, study, be prepared… very important. But the real test is what you do when you have opportunity to give the answer or turn to the way of escape.
If you are a preacher you know that every message you prepare is for the hearer. But you also understand that you’re the first one hearing it. You are first preaching to yourself. Therefore, how much you give after preaching on giving is the test. How much you lust after preaching on purity is essential. Your obedience after preaching (hearing) the message is just as important as preparing it. (This goes for parenting too).
God will honor your message when you first apply it to your own life. Then, and only then, will others really be blessed by you, because you realize it’s not you but God’s truth ringing through you. It multiplies when you live in obedience. Go and do likewise.