From D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching & Preachers, pp. 85-86:
“The preacher must be a serious man; he must never give the impression that preaching is something light or superficial or trivial….What is happening [in the act of preaching] is that he is speaking to them from God, he is speaking to them about God, he is speaking about their condition, the state of their souls. He is telling them that they are, by nature, under the wrath of God–”the children of wrath even as others”–that the character of the life they’re living is offensive to God and under the judgment of God, and warning them of the dread eternal possibility that lies ahead of them. In any case the preacher, of all men, should realize the fleeting nature of life in this world. The men of the world are so immersed in its business and affairs, its pleasures and all is vain show, that the one thing they never stop to consider is the fleeting nature of life. All this means that the preacher should create and convey the impression of the seriousness of what is happening the moment he even appears in the pulpit. You remember the famous lines of Richard Baxter: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”…You remember what was said of the saintly Robert Murray McCheyne of Scotland in the last century. It is said that when he appeared in the pulpit, even before he had uttered a single word, people would begin to weep silently. Why? Because of this very element of seriousness. The very sight of the man gave the impression that he had come from the presence of God and that he was to deliver a message from God to them. That is what had such an effect upon the people even before he had opened his mouth. We forget this at our peril, and at great cost to our listeners.”
To stand in the pulpit week after week to deliver a word from the Lord presupposes that the preacher is hearing a word from the Lord as he reads, studies, memorizes, and meditates on the word; it’s a daunting task and one that weighs on me every week as I make the 45 minute trip to the small Baptist church where I serve as interim. I imagine that the “weight” will intensify and I pray that I never lean upon my own talents or abilities but I continually crucify any fleshly desire and avail myself completely upon the Spirit of God – that He would (1) help me understand the context of the passage that I am reading, (2) give me spiritual eyes to see the significance of the text, (3) help me to see how it relates first and foremost to my life and finally, (4) help me to powerfully and insightfully bring relevance to the people to whom I am preaching to. Preachers have an incredible privilege and one that all should take very seriously.