Preaching is God’s appointed means of communicating the Gospel. Jesus was a preacher and so was Paul. Preaching has great power, potential, and capacity to bring about change in individuals, institutions, and societies. Preaching is one of the most effective ways of winning people to faith in Jesus Christ. Historically, preaching has become the principal means of leading, teaching, and feeding the church of God.
We are living in a day of the rise of motivational speakers. Instagram is filled with sound bites of inspirational videos. Facebook has trending content from public figures who inspire and motivate us to be better humans. That’s a good thing but preaching is more than a motivational speech. We are called to “go to all the world and preach the gospel” Mark 16:15 not just to inspire people to do better or motivate them to feel better. Here are the 14 differences between motivational speaking and biblical preaching:
1. Motivational speaking tends to be man-centered and people-pleasing, preaching is Christ-centered and God-honoring.
2. Motivational speaking requires charisma, preaching requires anointing of the Holy Spirit.
3. Motivational speaking influences emotions in the direction of self-actualization, preaching influences the soul in the direction of godliness.
4. Preaching is about the cross and the kingdom of God, motivational speaking is about our works and our life.
5. Preaching proclaims the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation. Motivational speaking might tag on “the sinner’s prayer” at the end of a “how-to” message.
6. Preaching produces a holy awe of God and a deep respect for His Word. Motivational speaking tends to be light, fun, humorous, and entertaining.
7. It’s “showtime” when the motivational speaker steps to the podium. It’s “flow time” when the preacher steps forward.
8. Preaching freely discusses heaven, hell, and the immortality of the soul, motivational speaking never addresses hell….and addresses hustle, getting happy and reaching your goals.
9. Preacher is salt, motivational speaker is sugar. When people listen to God’s word they want more of God. When people listen to more motivational speech they want more of the motivational speaker.
10. Preacher presents God as a goal, motivational speaker offers God as means to reach the goals of people.
11. Preaching the gospel brings heart transformation, mere motivational speeches bring behavior modification.
12. Preaching is an act of impartation, motivational speaking is simply inspiration.
13. Preacher works more on his soul than his sermon, motivational speaker works more on his speech than his spirit.
14. Preacher feeds on the Bible, motivational speaker will only read the Bible to find a sermon.
In order to be used by the Lord to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must pay attention to our spiritual life more than to the quality of our sermons. This is why St. Paul told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Notice that his “life” was highlighted even before his “doctrine.” It is easier to present messages that are doctrinally correct than it is to live a holy life, but both are necessary in the life of a pastor and preacher. If a minister is living “in the flesh” by intentionally feeding his sinful nature, his message will not be saturated and dripping with the grace of God and a Spirit-wrought love for the hearers. You don’t need to walk in the Holy Spirit to be a motivational speaker, but you can’t be a preacher of the gospel without living in the Spirit.
If we want our preaching to change lives, we have to let the word of God change our life. Feeding ourselves on the word of God will produce hunger for us. Charles Spurgeon said, “Visit many books but live in the Bible.”. If as a preacher of Christ you read more self-help books than the Scripture, your preaching will not produce hunger in people for God’s word. Love for the things of this world will not produce hunger for God. D.L. Moody said “This Book will keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this Book.”
Most of the ideas for this blog post were inspired by Post in Christian Post called “Differences Between Motivational Speaking and Biblical Preaching”
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