Many of my students struggle with self-improvement. Some who have read my books on preaching have decided, “What’s the point? I have too many faults.” Others take a more positive outlook and try to improve on EVERYTHING. Neither approach is good. Giving up is certainly not an option, if you want to last in church ministry. Taking the obsessive compulsive approach is also harmful to relationships and our other pastoral duties. What should we do?
Let me share a secret with you. Even after written books on preaching, I still don’t live up to my own ideal. Some of my listeners may soon find out that I actually do not fit the ideal I present in the book, not because I don’t want to but because I’m a fellow homiletic pilgrim. I still can improve. Quite often, my knowledge runs ahead of my presentation skills.
This is what I propose. We should try to improve on one single aspect each month or even each quarter. Practice makes progress. Perfect practice makes perfect. In other words, only repeated practice can break our bad habits. Do not try to be ambitious. Many try to do many things all at once. At the end, they find that they’ve made only minimal improvement. Sometimes, they make zero improvement even. We must stay patient by running a marathon rather than sprints in our homiletical improvement. I think every preacher can improve on something, even well-seasoned ones. We have the rest of our lives to improve and perfect our craft. Why hurry?