Future East Hill gospel meeting preacher Terry Francis said recently on his podcast, “It’s difficult to eat when you are the one serving the meal.” I’ve seen many godly women demonstrate that principle in their dining rooms over the years. It’s far more about helping others than feeding yourself.
I can relate as the one who dishes up the bread of life weekly. I grow from my sermon preparation, certainly. But I have come to realize I need more than that. After all, I expect my listeners to be reading and studying their Bibles regularly, independent of my offerings on the Lord’s Day. Am I any different if all of my Bible study is in sermon prep?
Can I get so caught up in feeding others that I do not feed myself? Absolutely. The lessons that I believe to be needful to others are not what I need myself — not always, anyway. And vice versa. And it strikes me that the most likely reason for preacher like me to feed others and (perhaps unintentionally) starve himself is exactly what I condemn in others: refusing (again, perhaps unconsciously) to realize that I actually need to grow.
If the average Christian can grow complacent in his salvation (instead of working it out per Philippians 2:12), surely a preacher is even more prone to do so. Paul warned against such an attitude in 1 Corinthians 9:27, and preachers like me quote that verse over and over again — but to protect others from falling, not to protect ourselves. Yet it may be the prideful in heart who is most likely to fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
To paraphrase Luke 4:23: Waiter, feed thyself.