Hello Pastor Park! Hope you’re having an awesome day so far. So, I’m scheduled to teach the youth and I’m freaking out. I’m filling in for the Youth Director and I have an idea of what I want to talk about but how I’m going to convey that message effectively is my dilemma. To be frank, I’m nervous about having 20+ eyeballs on me, I’m scared I’m going to put my foot in my mouth, and I don’t want it to be a complete awkward fail. Advice? Help me! Thank you 😀
Hey first of all: that is very, very awesome. God has opened a door and I can tell you really want to do this right, which is a good thing.
I am not very qualified to dispense wisdom on this (I’ve only been preaching for about four years, which is not much), but here are just a few reminders for you. I am assuming, by the way, that you’re prayed up and you have your content and you meditated on the Scripture thoroughly. If not, here’s a post on the Bible and one on prayer.
1) Don’t worry about perfect. Because it won’t be perfect. Of course, prepare hard. Pray like crazy. Do your research. But let go of trying to be the greatest speaker in the world.
2) You be you. I know you’ve probably heard that a million times: but please don’t use official preacher voice and don’t be a stand-up comedian. If you’re smart, be smart. If you’re simple, be simple. If you’re not funny, do not try to be funny. Sure, we’re a bit modified when we’re in front of a crowd, but God has given you a specific personality to communicate with others. So let that come through.
3) Practice. In the car or in an office or in your room: speak out loud. Get a gauge on your content, delivery, transitions, and enunciation. This might be embarrassing to do, but moving from paper to verbalization will crystallize all your thoughts. If you want, consider one or two visuals to use. And one effective theme is the best way to go.
4) Say what fires you up (so get fired up). In ministry, there will be plenty of things that don’t fire us up, like administration or conflict resolution or clean-up. But when you preach or teach, this is the time your convictions must come through. Pray for the fire. Since you’re starting, try speaking on something that has personally moved you. Your passion will be obvious and will infect others. If there’s a week when you’re speaking on a topic that doesn’t interest you, then get interested. Study it, soak it, pray it, apply it. People don’t remember an outline, but they will remember encountering God through you.
5) Give an application. While this can easily lead to legalism, always bring a grace-driven application to your message. My weakest messages always left out applications, because doctrine that stays in the clouds does nothing on the ground. So for example, “Love one another. There’s a weird kid in your school who sits by himself at lunch. Go to him, just like God went to you.”
6) Trust God with the results. After you’re done, you’ll be tempted to over-think what you missed. You’ll have a mini-meltdown over awkward things you said, how this or that could’ve been said better, if you really impacted anyone. You might wait for someone to say “Good job” and you’ll beat yourself up on the way home.
This was really a problem for me in my early days, and it still is sometimes. But a mentor once told me, What God does with your serving is none of your dang business. It sounds harsh, but I knew what he meant. Simply: You do your job, and let God do His.
We don’t always get to see the results of our serving. If we did, we might become arrogant self-focused people, or we’d only do it for the results. God calls us to faithfulness more than fruitfulness, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t see kids wearing sackcloth and tearing robes and repenting in dust and ashes. Do your job and let God be God. It’s ultimately for His Glory and not yours. I know you know that, but believe it after you’re done too.
7) Be thankful you get to do this at all. Do you know what I deserve? Certainly not a spot in God’s Kingdom. Not a place in the pulpit where people give me the time of day. Not a voice or influence or authority or any capacity to preach. It is all out of God’s grace. So start from that place of humility and recognize the magnitude of your calling. This will give you a humble confidence: because we undeserving got such a crazy task, but God is the one who empowers us for it.
Love you, friend. You’ll do great: but more importantly, for the glory of God.