When the lockdown first began I had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of Zoom webinars with John Ortberg. John is one of my 3 favorite preachers of all time. Whether John is speaking or writing, he has a unique knack of speaking directly to my soul. The topic was about “Preaching and Caring for Your Soul in Disruptive Times”. Needless to say, I could not wait to hear what he had to say about preaching to a camera in an empty room when the whole world is in disrupted chaos.
I consider John to be one of the most gifted preachers I have ever heard. So, I was shocked to hear he regularly struggles with what he called ‘sermon shame’. Sermon shame is the voice inside a preacher’s head that tells him the sermon was not good enough. The sermon fell short of what he was trying to accomplish. That voice in your head tells you that everyone – you, the church, your friends, God – everyone was disappointed with your effort. You were not good enough and should have just stayed home. If you can’t tell, I tend to be pretty familiar with sermon shame.
I don’t tell you this to get any sympathy or get you to pump me up. I tell you this, because I’m pretty sure preachers aren’t the only ones who struggle with some kind of shame. In fact, I think this lockdown may have surfaced ‘not-good-enoughness’ in most of us. None of us know how to handle life in the middle of a pandemic. And the unknown is the perfect environment for self-condemnation to grow.
These days I wonder:
- How many sales people feel like their sales are not good enough?
- How many parents feel like their parenting is not good enough compared to their friends on social media?
- How many Christians feel like they are not being spiritual enough in the middle of this time?
- How many financial providers are not providing enough?
- How many folks feel like they are not being emotionally healthy enough?
There is always a place for honest evaluation of how we are selling or parenting or walking with Jesus. BUT, there is a huge difference between healthy evaluation and destructive self-condemnation. And I am absolutely positive that Satan is having a field day in this season by stirring up some kind of shame in all of us. One of Satan’s most vicious tools is to accuse Christians and lead them in to self-destructive shame. Satan will shame you. God will convict you. Satan wants to destroy you. God wants to save you.
Romans 5:1 makes it clear that through Christ we have peace with God. And Romans 8:1 proclaims that there is no more condemnation for anyone who follows Jesus.
So, don’t hesitate to honestly evaluate how you are doing and put in steps to get better. BUT never give into the shame that Satan uses to make you feel like a failure or that you are not good enough. You are his beloved son or daughter, and he is pleased to be your Father.