Tim Keller: Godly Character Creates Good Leadership and Rich Sermons

timkellernycFollowing a link from Trevin Wax, I found a very recent blog from Tim Keller that included this helpful comment from the NYC pastor on sermon preparation. By the way, does anyone else out there wish Keller would write much more than he does?  His stuff is always so rich but short.

Here’s the quotation, which highlights the close connection of leadership and sermonizing (I’ve put the key comment in bold):

I pastor a church with a large staff and so I give 15+ hours a week to preparing the sermon. I would not advise younger ministers to spend so much time, however. When I was a pastor without a staff I put in 6-8 hours on a sermon. If you put in too much time in your study on your sermon you put in too little time being out with people as a shepherd and a leader. Ironically, this will make you a poorer preacher.

It is only through doing people-work that you become the preacher you need to be–someone who knows sin, how the heart works, what people’s struggles are, and so on. Pastoral care and leadership (along with private prayer) are to a great degree sermon preparation. More accurately, it is preparing the preacher, not just the sermon. Through pastoral care and leadership you grow from being a Bible commentator into a flesh and blood preacher.

There is much to chew on even in this little slice of commentary.  Those of us who would like to preach for the upbuilding of the church and the salvation of the lost will do well to remember the tie between godly character (which creates, ideally, strong leadership) and rich preaching.  Preaching is a mystical thing.  It’s an art, not a science.  It involves the full personality and character of the preacher.

There’s much we can learn to improve our preaching, but ultimately, strong preachers are godly men.

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  • Riley

    Thanks for posting this Owen. I sent it to Kurt and hope it is an encouragement to him as well. Hope you and the family are well.