Not Working Hard Enough?

December 5, 2007

Next year I’m facilitating a preaching course for some men in our church. Amongst the many challenging quotes I’ve noted down in preparation is a frank but factual comment from Jay Adams. Not only do I agree with the sentiment, I repent. Too often I feel that ‘lure of laziness’ when another sermon passage confronts me. Though I will never fail to work on a given passage, it is certainly possible not to work hard.

Oh that we preachers might be that ‘hardworking farmer’ (2 Tim 2:6) and ‘unashamed workman‘ (2 Tim 2:15) in our efforts to sow God’s word!

“I have had the opportunity to hear much preaching over the last few years, some very good, some mediocre, most very bad. What is the problem with preaching? There is no one problem of course…But if there is one thing that stands out most, perhaps it is the problem I mention today. What I am about to say may not strike you as being as specific as other things I have written, yet I believe it is at the bottom of a number of other difficulties. My point is that good preaching demands hard work. From listening to sermons and from talking to hundreds of preachers about preaching, I am convinced that the basic reason for poor preaching is the failure to spend adequate time and energy in preparation. Many preachers – perhaps most – simply don’t work long enough on their sermons.”

(Jay Adams, “Editorial: Good Preaching is Hard Work”, the Journey of Pastoral practice 4, no 2, 1980: 1)


  1. I wish I could come to your preaching course. I have noticed several seminars and conferences for pastors and preaching that are held in Scotland, England and Wales. I would truly love to come to one of these conferences. There may be some in the USA but I haven’t heard of them. I have enjoyed listening to the sermons from the various churches and conferences, especially Mark Driscoll. Excellent! Keep up the good work. Your staff did a great job with Jeremiah.

  2. Amen! Our church staff (as well as about 30 others) are in the process of taking Dr. Adams’ complete coursework in Nouthetic Counseling. What a blessing! I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in sharpening their pastoring skills.

  3. Mark – hopefully as the course runs we will be putting audio and notes online to coincide. It won’t be like coming on the course, I guess, but it might be helpful to some people. Yeah, maybe the likes of Proc Trust should ‘go on the road’ from time to time.

    Thomas – is it Jay Adams himself who is teaching?

  4. perhaps it is sometimes a commitment of surrender and not one of preparation.

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