The third part of effective teaching is a useful, willing vessel. The tea and the water are mixed together in a teapot. Once, a few years ago, I conducted a teacher training class for the teachers in our Christian school. As part of their training, I asked the teachers to answer these questions:

  1. Write the title of every book you used in school.
  2. Write the name of as many subjects you took that you can remember.
  3. Describe special experiences that you remember.
  4. Name every teacher you had and why you remember them.

Of the six people who took that training course, only one person could remember the name of a textbook. Two more people could remember a few subject titles. Most could remember several special experiences and activities. Everyone could remember at least six teachers. Why?

Because it is teachers who have the most impact on students, not the things they teach or the books they use. The teachers told stories about their lives; they used words and expressions that were colorful and power-packed. Their classes were not just dry lessons; they were powerful experiences between themselves and their students.

That little activity proved to me that it is people who affect people. We are touched by the lives of others as much as we are touched by the things they say. An effective teacher imparts himself to others. “The disciple, after he is fully taught, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

So, we have now examined three parts of good sermons and lessons:

  • The Word
  • The Spirit
  • A vessel

In our diagram they would compare to the tea, the water, and the teapot. However, those ingredients are not yet tea. They need one more thing. Do you know what it is?

The fourth ingredient is heat or fire. The fires of life must be applied before tea leaves and water become something to drink. The one thing that made that preacher in Indonesia so dynamic was that he had lived through hard times so that the truth in the Book had become truth in his life. It is the heating that completes the process. Fired on the burner of God’s stove, baked in the oven of trial and experience, knowledge becomes wisdom.

You may remember the life of Joshua. For 40 years he served Moses and the people in the wilderness. It was those 40 years that prepared him to lead the people into the Promised Land.

You may know the Word fairly well. You may be alive with the Spirit. You may be a willing vessel. But you will never be completely effective unless and until those ingredients have brewed awhile. If you’re feeling the heat now, relax. The Word and the Spirit are combining to make something very good.

A minister will not be effective simply because he learns a workable method of sermon and lesson preparation. Good tools help you minister better. There just isn’t any substitute for an anointed, knowledgeable, Spirit-led preacher.


You have already written out ideas you have for sermons or lessons. You have listed some of the things your people are asking questions about. Look at your list again. Which one(s) of the items on your list are you experiencing? How is God working truth into your life? Now write out some of the experiences you are having that illustrate and demonstrate God’s Word in YOUR life. Try to use personal experiences.