14 Differences Between “Motivational Speaker” and “Bible Preacher”

Vladimir Savchuk Blog 7 Comments

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”

This blog was written by Vladimir Savchuk.

Pastor Vlad is the lead pastor of Hungry Generation Church, an author of “Break Free” and “Single, Ready to Mingle” and a founder of free online school “Vlad’s School.” To download free e-books, sermon series, small group study guides go to vladimirsavchuk.com

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Comments 7

  1. Thank you Pastor Vlad for putting this out there in Black and White, I’ve been having this similar thought and was thinking of how do I get out in the open and thank you for doing that. God bless you for calling a spade a spade !! I believe we are already in the last days, people are eager to hear doctrines of demons that will tickle their ears for all this will come to pass, I pray and declare what you have written convicts people and that they would refrain and withdraw from the lie and connect to a true genuine Bible Preaching Church in Jesus Name . Amen

  2. So true, there is a distinction between preaching the gospel and motivational speaking and unfortunately, our assemblies today are filled with motivational speakers. ‘Do this to get this’, ‘5 keys to breakthrough’, ‘how to stand out from the crowd’, ‘how to succeed’, these are the ‘sermons’ we hear today. Every believer must know the difference in these last days and choose the word of God over motivation. One way to know the difference is motivation is always focused on the people ( how they can be better, happier, richer, get what they want), but gospel preaching focuses on God ( becoming more like Christ, being more humble, content, enduring, forebearing). May God help us all in Jesus name.

  3. Imagine being in the spirit like Paul or Peter, but having the eloquence to speak like Appollos. Yes, one must be grounded with a solid foundation. Circumcision of the Heart. I know the word well. The Lord has giving me clear understanding of the KJV. My speech is lacking eloquence. It makes my ears hurt when I hear a motivational preacher who is not preaching the Word right. The congregation knows no different, but they listen to the preacher’s appealing charismatic speech because they don’t know any different. In the spirit preaching the word with eloquence is what is needed to lead God’s people

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