I confess to being a serial sufferer of post Sunday blues when I’ve been preaching. For those who have never experienced this phenomenon (really?) this is the “down” some preachers feel after a hard Sunday or a preach into which we’ve put everything. I used to think it was caused by outside factors – for example, not enough good comments on the door! Or, perhaps, some distractions during the sermon that made me think the message wasn’t clearly heard.
But over the years, I’ve begun to realise that it starts internally not externally. It’s not fundamentally about how the word was received but the heart of the one who delivered it. That’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, and I still suffer. But here’s the landscape of my heart.
I’ve tried to analyse what is going on and here are my conclusions. My Monday Blues are caused by:
– a lack of confidence in the Spirit of God to take the word of God and make Jesus real to people. Of course, I want to preach as well as I am able, to be faithful, to illustrate helpfully and apply appropriately. I labour with all my strength for those things. But the effectiveness of the word of God is not – ultimately – dependent upon those. Praise God. The trouble is that my labours are so energy sapping that I begin to persuade myself that the effectiveness of the sermon is precisely about those things.
– an over-confidence in my own ability to save the world. We have a little saying at PT Towers that we often use to encourage one another. It goes something like this: “you are not the Messiah.” Repeat after me. But the nature of pastoral work is that others often think we are, and we begin to convince ourselves that it is true. It is not.
These are two root untruths that I have to battle and which cause my own Monday Blues. Perhaps yours are different. And here is my antidote: I learnt it from a well known preacher. It is to pray as much after the sermon for the sermon as I do before. Many preachers struggle to pray before, to be honest. But we must learn and cultivate the discipline of praying after. It’s this discipline that has helped me fight the untruths and try (not always successfully) to banish those Monday Blues.