I mentioned previously that effective preaching is largely the product of two factors, one divine and the other human. Both are necessary – for “without man, God will not, and without God, man cannot.” It is the human aspect with which we are dealing primarily in these studies.
A. PERSONALITY GUIDELINES
An elderly preacher was once asked by a group of young ministers: “With regard to the human aspect of preaching, what is the most important factor?” His immediate reply was: “Personality!” “But tell us,” they persisted, “what is personality?” “Ah,” he said, “if only I knew!”
Preaching involves communicating divine truth through human personality. So the development and proper use of personality is important.
Someone has analyzed effective public speaking (I refer to public speaking as distinct from preaching) in this manner:
An effective speech is composed of:
- 50% subject matter;
- 20% psychology of approach and conclusion;
- 20% effective delivery;
- 10% personality.
Yet, that 10 percent “leavens” the whole speech! It can make the difference between a boring talk and a fascinating speech. I have, therefore, felt it desirable to devote some space to the matter of the preacher’s personality. The following are some simple guidelines.
- Be Yourself
Be relaxed, natural and unaffected. One of the most important aids to effective speaking is to be relaxed.
Tension creates nervousness. Under tension, the memory does not function well. Speech does not flow fluently. Your nervousness will be communicated to the audience, and they too will feel tense.
The best way to relax is to commit your message to God. Do the best you can and leave the results to God.
- Try Not To Copy Others
God chose YOU because He wants to use YOU. You have some special features peculiar to you alone, and God has a purpose for them.
It is a great mistake to try to copy any other preacher. No matter how effective that person may be, it will not enhance your ministry to try to copy him. To do so would be like David trying to wear Saul’s armor. It just did not fit him, and would have been more of a hindrance than a help (1 Sam 17:38,39).
If you are endeavoring to copy or imitate someone, your listeners will quickly become aware of this. They will realize that your preaching is not wholly sincere and genuine. It communicates shallowness or superficiality.
You will never be completely relaxed and at ease, if you are not yourself. Your ministry will be stilted and artificial. Determine to be yourself, and be the best that you can be!
- Be True To Yourself
Integrity and honesty are essential for a preacher. You are a channel for God – a mouthpiece that He might speak to mankind through you. Therefore, He wants a vessel which is honest, free from hypocrisy and guile.
- Be A Clean Vessel
It is unlikely that your hearers will rise higher than you. If your life is polluted, you will pollute your hearers. If there is bitterness in your spirit, you will communicate it to your listeners.