On Becoming A Wise Preacher

My method of sermon preparation is based on Ecclesiastes 12:9-11. It’s actually the only passage in Scripture that explains how a speaker prepares wisely.

The New American Standard Version of that verse says, In addition to being a wise man, the preacher also taught the people knowledge, and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails. They are given by one shepherd.

Notice all the preparation involved:

He ponders - In other words, he carefully thinks about what he will say.

He searches out - He researches and he studies before he speaks.

He arranges - As he searches out truths, he categorizes them. He sets things in a logical order.

He looks for just the right words - He doesn't cut any corners by just arbitrarily picking his words.

This preacher is worth listening to because he does his homework.

As a result, Solomon says his words are like goads. A goad is a sharp stick that you use to guide animals. Think of it as an ancient, electric cattle prod. In the same way, your messages need to motivate people to do something.

Then the Bible also says his words are like well-driven nails. The best-crafted messages make a truth memorable. Like a nail, the truth is driven in and you can’t pull it out. People remember what is said.

Until next week,


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.