Lessons from Listening to Other Preachers

As I’ve been continuing to accept new preaching opportunities, I’ve been following Don Carson’s advice to young preachers which is listen to other men.

Lots of them.

Thanks to podcasts and the internet, this is easier than it’s ever been.

I’ve got an interesting mix of guys I’m listening to right now. Driscoll, MacArthur, Chandler, my own pastor Norm Millar, Joshua Harris, Josh Howerton, and a few other preachers. And it’s been really interesting to discover the things I’m learning from listening to other preachers. Here are a few:

A man’s arrogance comes through in his tone and grates against the spirit of his hearers. I was listening to one man recently (who is not on the above list) who—I don’t know what it is, but his tone just grated on me. I felt like I was being berated just listening—and I wasn’t even in the room. It truly grieved me. He came across as a man puffed up without reason.

What I am learning from this man is that my words must be heartfelt and honest and my spirit must be broken by the Holy Spirit before I get in the pulpit.

When Scripture is used only to prove a point, it cripples the power of the truth we speak. Listening to the same man, I noticed that he rarely ever used Scripture outside of an allusion or just to back up something that he was saying. It wasn’t that much of what he was saying was bad—in fact, some was quite good and true—but it lacked power because it wasn’t rooted clearly in the Scriptures.

What I am learning is that my ideas and opinions—even if they are true and align with Scripture—do not carry the weight and power of Scripture. Therefore, I must rely on the words that God inspired, rather than my ideas that may have been shaped by them.

A man’s love for his congregation is most apparent when he is speaking hard truth. The last thing I noticed listening to this same man was an appeal to have a personal relationship with Christ… without an explanation of why we need to have a relationship with Christ. The gospel was not present; our hopeless state as sinners, the Father’s appointing of the Son to accomplish our redemption and sending the Holy Spirit to apply it… none of it was there.

What I am learning is that if I love the people to whom I am preaching, I need to speak this hard truth—that we are far worse than we ever feared, but God is far more amazing and gracious than we could ever imagine.

These are some of the lessons I’ve been learning from listening to other preachers.

What lessons are you learning?

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  • http://www.soulbridgevineyard.com soulbridge

    I am learning that it is much easier to be a critic than it is to be a preacher. I have been on both sides and have found that it is much easier to judge other preachers than it is to honestly evaluate myself. I have learned that mercy triumphs over judgement. Having said that, I have also learned that sometimes people preach for the wrong reasons, and it always comes through in the message. And, I have learned that if I don’t first embrace the call and lesson of the message myself, then no one else will be able to embrace it either.
    Blessings as you continue to serve in preaching and blogging.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks – these are great lessons to learn, especially the last one that we always have to be preaching to ourselves first. Thanks again!

  • http://www.hillsbiblechurch.org/ Don

    Aaron, this and your previous post blend so well together.

    What is it that motivates and drives us, our innate desire for self-aggrandisement – or a passion to serve and glorify God. I fear there are many who step into the pulpit due to the former rather than the latter.

    When I was a young man, I fancied myself as a budding preacher – but God still had many lessons to teach me – one of them was that he did not call me to a preaching ministry.


    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for the feedback, Don – I’m curious, have you written about your call on the Hills blog? If not, is that something you’d consider sharing (either here or there–or both?)