Steven Furtick, Louie Giglio Speak on the Importance of Humility Over Performance

Prominent pastors Steven Furtick and Louie Giglio recently conveyed the importance of pastors maintaining humility when communicating God's message to a congregation, rather than focusing on their personal performance.

"I struggle with whether people like me, if people like my messages," Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga. and founder of the anti-slavery Passion Movement, told host Jeff Henderson during The Rocket Company's "Preach Better Sermons" web seminar, which aired Wednesday.

Giglio went on to share that he believes being a pastor can prove to be a dangerous recipe for any human being, as pastors often have so much attention focused on them.

"Humility is a byproduct of being with Jesus," Giglio said, adding that he often struggles with humility, but he realizes that "if we're not careful, if we don't lean into that, then preaching becomes a tool for us to trumpet ourselves."

The well-known pastor and public speaker, who speaks to tens of thousands of students through his Passion Conferences, went on to say that he believes humility is vital to a successful preaching style because ultimately, the Holy Spirit is simply using the pastor to communicate a message, and therefore if the pastor chooses to focus on his personal performance instead of the message, the essence of God's word may be lost to the listener.

Giglio used the example of a funnel when speaking of the sermon-creating process, saying that although it is possible for pastors to devote a sermon completely to themselves and their view of the world, ultimately, after all of the unimportant, selfish aspects of the message are filtered out, the product leaving the bottom of the funnel is the pure word of the Holy Spirit.

"It's about coming to that place of saying 'I don't want to just spout out the word, I want the word to do its thing in me," Giglio said, adding that only when a pastor embraces humility can the Holy Spirit's word fully shine through.

Steven Furtick, founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., also advised pastors on the importance of humility during Wednesday's seminar, saying that he reminds himself to be humble and subsequently sheds the nervousness he feels speaking in front of a large congregation.

"The more that I shift my attention from being impressive to being a blessing, the less my nervousness gets to me," Furtick said.

"The more it's about the people and less about the performance, the more the message comes from a holy place," the pastor continued, adding that he undergoes a ritual prior to every sermon which helps him feel grounded and puts "his mind into the rhythm."

The ritual, which Furtick describes as a "reset button," involves using oil to anoint different parts of his body, such as his eyes, mouth, and ears, while simultaneously thanking God for allowing him to communicate His message to the congregation. This ritual, according to Furtick, reminds him that "there's a power working in me; I'm not just going out here alone to deliver my thoughts."

Additionally, Furtick keeps a reminder of humility in the form of a note resting on his altar, which references Isaiah 55 (NIV) and reads: "it never returns void."

These words, according to Furtick, give him "more confidence in God's message, and less confidence in one's performance," because God's word is so entirely truthful that it is impossible for it to be vacant of meaning.  

Furtick and Giglio were just two of many prominent evangelical leaders headlining Wednesday's web seminar "Preach Better Sermons," during which well-known church leaders reflected on how they have improved their creative process for sermons over the years. Other popular speakers at Wednesday's seminar, which was produced by The Rocket Company, a faith-based organization focused on church growth, included Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and Mark Batterson, bestselling author and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., among others.

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