It’s a grind to give a sermon every week. It can be similar for Bible study teachers, bloggers, podcasters, and other spokespersons for Christ. It can drain your soul.
I feel compassion for pastors who stand up every week to preach but secretly the well of their own soul is dry. To be expected to lead people into God’s presence when you feel empty and far from God, and to keep doing this week after week, can cause burnout. Worse, you can get cynical or find yourself living a double life.
We need to practice the idea that less is more.
Perhaps the most common mistake we make as spokespersons for Christ is to spend too much time and energy perfecting our content. This causes a lot of stress and actually decreases our effectiveness.
Studies show that 93% of the effect we have as speakers is our nonverbal presentation. Only 7% is our content. That’s not much! Yet, it’s a constant temptation for us to worry and overwork on our content.
What people are most impacted by is not what we say, but the way we say it. This comes primarily from our relational health, character, and prayerfulness as we speak (or write).
A second mistake of preachers and other Christian communicators is to produce a message for their audience rather than simply sharing what has blessed them.
A study showed that 72% of pastors only study the Bible for sermons (Francis Schaeffer Institute). That sounds like a lot of pastors who have lost track of their need to feed their own souls on God’s Word.
Instead, as spokespersons for Christ, we need to get ahead of the grind for producing content so that we’re gleaning from God’s Word and other spiritual sources in our personal life. Then we can carry this into our message for other people. That’s speaking out of the overflow of the Spirit of Jesus’ ministry to us.
The greatest impact you can have on people as a communicator is when people feel Christ’s loving presence from you.
The best compliment I ever received as a speaker is one someone told me, “You streamed Christ’s presence to us.” How can you do that? It’s in your warm smile. It’s being concerned about people’s interests and needs. It’s serving as Christ’s ambassador to offer God’s friendship (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Our friend Lance Wood says the way to speak to a group is simply to “Be Jesus.” That’s his less is more approach when speaking to groups in business, mission trips, and fundraising events. Have you ever experienced a Christ-saturated charity auction? That’s what Lance does!
During a recent Soul Shepherding Institute week, Lance put words to his “Be Jesus” approach. “The question isn’t ‘What would Jesus do?’ It’s ‘Who would Jesus be through me?’ It’s not about doing, it’s about being… Listening, empathizing, loving, inspiring other people to experience Jesus through me.” (To hear more listen to this week’s Soul Talks podcast that Kristi and I did: “211 – Less is More: 4 Ways to Thrive in Your Mission.”)
For additional guidance on practicing less is more as a preacher, speaker, or writer check out my blog on “How to Give a Life-Changing Message.” You’ll find 12 tips for ministering to others with joy and effectiveness.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk: We often believe that more productivity, accomplishment, and ideas lead us to greater fruitfulness, but it ultimately leads us into anxiety, stress, and hurry. But in the way of Jesus, less is more. In this episode, Bill and Kristi offer four ways to help you lean into Jesus’ easy yoke and experience mission fruitfulness. It requires attention and training but leads to a more restful and peaceful way of leadership.