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Why You Are Fearful Before Preaching

Updated: Feb 8, 2023


Why I Get Nervous Before Preaching

The reason I get nervous before preaching often times is I have no business, other than God’s Grace, speaking to anyone. The Bible says: “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus”. I should have been paid my wages (death for my sin), but instead received the free gift of salvation. You may not understand this, if you are not a “God called” preacher anyway, but none of us are “qualified” to speak on behalf of the God of the Universe. That is, without His direct intervention.

That is important because there is not one (1) second while we are preaching, we do not realize this. We are flawed human beings, who should be dead, but were “saved alive” through no effort(s) of our own. This is humbling because not only are we unqualified to live, we do not even know what the “qualifications” to preach the gospel are outside of God’s grace. Therefore, we know we are not qualified, because we will NEVER know if we have any of the required skills! I cannot answer for anyone else, but this is my logic for nervousness.

Further, I have never, even as a teenager, had a fear of public speaking. Factually, I was a “shameless self-promoter” (in my brother’s view) who talked too much! Yet it is much different talking on your own behalf and speaking for the Creator of the Universe. All self-promotion is absent, and in its place is a humility.

Why You Are Nervous Before Preaching

One reason you may be nervous before preaching is the fear of public speaking or, perhaps, you feel as I do. However, many experience anxiety when speaking in front of a group, and this can be magnified when the subject matter is our Holy God. The fear of being inadequate, misunderstood, or ineffective communication can all contribute to anxiety.

Another reason could be the weight of responsibility that comes with the role. Bingo! Preachers are often viewed as leaders and guides in their community. The pressure to live up to that expectation can be overwhelming. Additionally, the idea of potentially influencing the beliefs and actions of others can be daunting. This does not mention serving as a communicative spokesperson for a perfectly Holy Being.

Lastly, it could be a lack of confidence in one's knowledge or understanding of the Bible. In yourself, you cannot have such understanding but with Holy Ghost illumination, all things are possible! Even the most experienced, and well-versed preachers, may not be entirely confident in their articulation of the gospel message.

Calming Your Nerves Before a Sermon

There are several ways to calm nerves before a sermon. First, and foremost is prayer and submission to the Holy Spirit. This is not about you preacher; it is about Him. Your nervousness, while understandable, does not limit God unless you allow it to. Additionally, visualization techniques can be helpful, such as imagining yourself delivering the sermon confidently (in God). It's also helpful to remind yourself that it is not the audience’s judgment which matters – only God’s.

Here are twelve (12) strategies to calm your nerves before preaching the Gospel:

  • Focus on developing “timing”: rhythm is crucial to effective delivery. There is no one size fits all solution. For instance, the African American Church is much more rhythmic than “others”. Yet this does not mean even in “less intense” styles that timing is not critical. The more you preach, the more efficient one becomes.

  • Use Holy visualization: Imagine yourself delivering the sermon focusing only on Holy Spirit illumination.

  • Remind yourself of the purpose of preaching: Remember that you are there to serve others and help them to understand and accept the gospel message.

  • Pray and do so often: Pray right up until the moment you preach. That song “Blessed Assurance” will directly result from this!

  • Never allow your nervousness to ruin the message: I am a multi-year experienced Pastor and I still become anxious often. However, I never, and neither should you, allow this to silence Holy Ghost preaching.

  • Fast before preaching: if you have a medical condition which makes this dangerous, only consume minimal calories and not a full meal. You will NEVER, preach effectively on a full stomach. If you think that is not true because you have, try preaching on an empty stomach. You will notice the difference.

  • Stay hydrated: always have water available during the sermon. Part of the anxiety I feel results in extreme dry mouth which effects delivery.

  • Isolate yourself in worship: those of us who “feed” must also be “fed”. This happens through private worship before we preach.

  • Get is better shape: 95% of preachers I know are awfully out of shape. I lost almost 40+ pounds and there is certainly a difference.

  • Meditate or pray: Take time to focus on the present moment and connect with a higher power.

  • Do not deal with issues: never, ever, ever try and resolve congregational or even family issues prior to preaching. It will distract and you will notice the difference.

  • Study, study, study: follow your processes and be faithful in notes creation.

Encouraging Myself as a Pastor Before a Sermon

Encouraging yourself as a Pastor or Preacher before a sermon is crucial. God-affirming statements can be an effective tool for calming nerves before preaching. When we engage in satanic distractions and “self” talk, it will affect message quality. Never forget that this is not about us – it is about Jesus Christ and HIS POWER (not ours).

Here are twenty-four (24) encouraging statements to speak over yourself before you preach:

  • "I am speaking the gospel truth and the truth will set people free."

  • "I trust in the power of the words the Holy Spirit will share."

  • "Let God’s heart (through His Words) touch the hearts of His people."

  • "He called me to share this message for a reason."

  • "My soul is filled with love and compassion, and nothing is more important.”

  • "I believe in the impact God’s Word will have."

  • "I am an instrument of change so I will use my voice wisely."

  • "These Words have the power to inspire and uplift."

  • "God chose me as a messenger of hope and my words will reflect that."

  • "What I say has the power to change lives so I will speak them with conviction."

  • "God will show Himself with power and great glory”.

  • "These words from God’s Throne are a beacon of light in the darkness."

  • "Jesus gave me a unique message to share so I will speak it with confidence."

  • "His Word has the power to bring salvation, healing and peace."

  • "Where I once was a liar, I am now a vessel of truth for God”.

  • "I may not trust my flesh, but I abide and trust in God’s calling for me”.

  • "Making a difference means using God’s Word wisely."

  • "These Words shape people’s eternity so I will speak them with purpose."

  • "God’s voice through me will reflect my faith in His Might”.

  • "The power of my voice and God’s Words will make soul winning impact."

  • "Someone will leave this message with a changed heart and mind."

  • "God’s Word will flow from me and be heard far beyond this place”.

  • "I was born to be a source of hope and encouragement."

  • "Jesus is our eternal hope and my words will reflect that”.

More Confidence Building Strategies for Preachers

Gaining confidence when preaching can be achieved through prayer, supplication, and preparation. This means researching and studying the topic you will preach. Further, you must understand the audience you will be speaking to.

Here are twelve (12) further ways to gain preaching confidence:

  • Thorough research: Master text, themes, and sermonic points.

  • Understand your audience: Paul said: “To a Jews become I a Jew that I might save the Jew. To the Greek became I Greek that I might save the Greek…” You get the point. Effective preaching often revolves around cultural “nuance”.

  • Preach as often as possible: This may be harder for associate ministers. Practice assists is forming style and repeatable methods which make for effective preaching. Much of my style was not developed in an “air-conditioned pulpit” rather on city street corners preaching to whoever would listen!

  • Focus on God’s strength: This allows you to totally ignore your own weaknesses. Remember that Paul said the same thing, right?

  • Allow God to affirm you: You are not preaching to gain the “love” of people rather the “well done good and faithful servant” from God.

  • Visualization techniques: Imagine yourself delivering the sermon in the power of God’s might.

  • Keep a “God can” mind-set: God can, God Will and the only question is – will you let Him?

  • Care for your “temple”: Physical fitness or the lack thereof will show in preaching.

  • Love God’s people: You should preach because you have Holy Ghost love for the souls of God’s people.

  • Retreat to your private place: leave everyone behind and get alone with the Lord. Often, this requires more than just closing your eyes. Like Jesus, get away before you preach!

  • Confess your sin: Clean yourself out preacher! After all, grace through repentance does not only apply to those we preach to. It is a gift for us as well.

  • Be open to God’s last-minute changes: this is a tough one for most of us. We prepare notes and at the last moment, God tells us: “Trust me”.

Things You Should Never Do Before Preaching

Lastly, it's important to avoid getting too caught up in the details of your sermon. While it's important to be well-prepared, it's also important to be flexible and open to the on-spot move of the Holy Spirit.

Here are twelve (12) No-No(s) Prior to Preaching:

  • Preparation procrastination: Waiting until the last minute to prepare your sermon can cause feelings of anxiety and stress.

  • Negative self-talk or thoughts: Such as "I'm not good enough" or "I'm going to mess up". Well, perhaps by yourself this is true! However, with God’s guidance, what is impossible?

  • Comparing yourself to others: this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and negatively impact delivery.

  • Excessive sleeplessness: even years after preaching my first sermon, I yet “wrestle in the spirit” each Saturday night before preaching on Sunday.

  • Excessive sermon editing: I get it but sometimes “more is just more” and God is nowhere in it.

  • Excessive multitasking: Do not allow weeklong “ministry activity” to distract from what really matter: the Word of God being preached. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important.

  • Overthinking or obsessing: When you are prepared, rest in the confidence that you have completed your part: now allow God to finish His.

  • Getting to caught up in church: I am not suggesting you do not participate in worship service prior to preaching. However, your part in the service is delivering God’s Word. Is there last-minute prayer or supplication required?

  • Stressing over things out of your control: control what the Lord Jesus put in your control and ignore the rest.

  • Being excessively over-rehearsed: nothing is more damaging to the move of the Holy Ghost than a “practiced preacher”. This is sickening and quite frankly disgusting. You are not an “actor”, you are the farthest thing from such fraud.

  • Preaching from an empty cup: preaching is about pouring everything out of your “cup” which has been given by God. That cup requires refilling so allow the Lord to refill it. You cannot pour from and empty cup.

  • Not present in the moment: climbing that mountain is spiritually and emotionally taxing. However, remain here for as long as God allows!

Now that you better understand sources of nervousness and remedies to deal with it, go out there and preach that everlasting Gospel! This, and no other, is what you were born to do.

Header Image Courtesy of Nicola Barts @ PexelsBottom of Form

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