Yesterday we got to host Tommy Green, who is the Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention. He brought a strong, timely, and convicting message. And for one of the few times since 2016, I got to sit next to my wife.
As pastors, we find our primary identity and responsibility in preaching. It's what the Bible tells us to be our primary focus (Acts 6:4) and the ability to preach well is listed as the only skill qualification for pastoral ministry. So it's kinda a big deal for us. Because of that, we usually don't step out of the pulpit except for vacation time. But we need to bring in the occasional guest speaker.
1. It gives you a break - The weekly grind of ministry often finds its most toil in the preparation of your Sunday message. Some pastors spend as much as 20-25 hours a week just on the Sunday morning message. Others spend less time than that, but consume more mental/emotional/spiritual energy than can be recorded on a time sheet. Bringing in a guest speaker lets you step out of the grind a little bit. On top of that, it lets you have a Sunday where you're not giving your everything in the delivery of your message. So you can engage in worship without the pressure of preaching.
2. It lets you work ahead - When you're not under the gun to finish for Sunday, you can work ahead on your sermon preparation. Not everyone is like this, but I try to stay a few weeks ahead on the process. It works for me. It might not for you. So if it doesn't work for you, use the extra time to develop your next series, your next outline, or to think ahead of future sermon planning.
3. You can focus in other areas - When you don't have the pressing need for a Sunday preparation you can devote a little extra time to pastoral care, to administration, to visiting, to staff development, and other areas you find yourself "not having the time for."
4. Your people get a break - They love you. But they need a break from you. I mean that in the most gracious way. You have a particular style, flow, cadence, and emphasis. Hearing from someone else is good for them. It lets them hear from a different voice. It shows them (and you) that you don't have to be the only spiritual influence in their lives. It's a good thing to get a break. Ask anyone on a diet who's had a strong Cheat Day.
5. You can get fed - Since I became a senior pastor, I've maybe been out of the pulpit 10 times. You may be reading this and not even remembering the last time you were out. Your soul needs to be nourished. And you can have guests come in without you being out on vacation. You can have other godly men called to ministry in your church fill the pulpit for you. You need to be fed. You need to be preached to more than at a conference or podcast.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.