You have been called to preach, but it seems that your opportunities to preach are slim to none. You see your other associate colleagues who have more invitations than they can even fill and yet you have only preached twice in the last year. You are beginning to wonder if the call is real. You also might be allowing envy to cause you to talk about other preachers who are getting invitations.

It can be frustrating and we must take some active steps to make this season of waiting valuable and profitable. if you find yourself waiting for your opportunity, I would encourage you to do the following important things:

1) Reevaluate your call – During times of downtime you can really look at your call. Ask help from God and others. What is the call that you have on your life? Maybe you are called to preach, but maybe you are called to another ministry. God has a “you formed” ministry that God created you to fulfill. Make sure that you are not fighting against your real ministry while trying to fit into the mold of what you think ministry should be. Remember, your gift makes room for your ministry. I ain’t saying you ain’t called if you don’t have any invitations, but I am saying that now is a good time to make sure that you are operating in your call.

2) Prepare your Sermons Anyhow – You know you can prepare a sermon even if you do not have an engagement. When I was a young preacher, the older ministers used to tell me to always have a sermon in my Bible. And let me tell you, I have used that sermon on occasion. I have showed up to worship service and ended up preaching when I did not know I was to preach.

This is especially true for seminary students. When I was at Vanderbilt Divinity School, one of my classmates told me that he showed up to a worship service one Sunday morning. The pastor recognized him as a Vanderbilt Divinity Student and brought him to the back room (a common occurrence when we visit churches.) The pastor told him that he was going to put him on the program so come up on the rostrum with him. My classmate told me that they passed the morning scripture. And he was not brought forward. They then moved to the morning prayer, and the pastor still didn’t call him. The service continued…and then the pastor got up and introduced my classmate as the morning preacher…Now I don’t think that was a good thing, nor do I think pastors should do that, but my point is that my classmate was prepared. Would you be?

Senior Pastors get sick the day before preaching, are you ready to step in? Senior Pastors have to leave town on business, are you ready to step in? Be ready, and be prepared at all times.

3) Fight bitterness and envy – The dark side of waiting to preach is that preachers can lash out at other preachers or they work behind the scenes to overturn another preacher. Envy is natural in the world, but it is not the way of the Kingdom of God.

If you embrace envy or bitterness in your spirit you will not be an effective preacher when your time comes, and you will be sowing seeds of discord in between those times. Remember it is the enemy that is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) and not you.

4) Do Your Role and Sit Down

I did a seminar on the associate minister and the worship service. In that seminar, I gave a simple rule for associates to follow when called upon to read the morning scripture or offer the morning prayer. That simple rule is to “do your role and sit down.”

By that I mean, don’t take it upon yourself to freelance and add to the service that which is not there. We all have seen associates who think that it has been too long since they preached so they decide to turn the morning scripture into a sermon.

When two or three associates do that we end up with a lengthy service, three or four different sermons, and none of them necessarily work towards the theme that the worship planner has created. What you don’t realize is that your additions to the service do not help you get a spot and in many ways will work against it. The more you abuse the service by additions that do not necessarily promote or support it, the less likely worship leaders will make use of you in the future.

4) Fulfill the assignments you do have – This is two phased. First, when the senior pastor gives you an assignment, fulfill it with all of your might. Whether that assignment is visiting a sick member or doing some church business at the bank. Remember that the church has a lot of things that must be done. If you see the toilet paper is about to run out in the bathroom, go tell the deacon about it. If you see a tear in the carpet, let the pastor know. If you are at the hospital visiting someone else and you found out that Sister Betty is there as well, go visit her.

Let me also say that as a minister, your calling is to the world. As an ordained minister you will find ways to bless those around you as well. Your calling and ministry is more than just fulfilling functions at church, but you are an ambassador of the coming kingdom where you are right now. And that is a 24 hour a day 7 day a week job. Yes, your ministry is about more than preaching. And if you fulfill that ministry, it will enrich even your preaching ministry.

God has called you to ministry. Don’t sabotage that ministry by allowing bitterness to overtake you. In short, you will have the opportunity to minister this week, be ready for it. Yes, it can be frustrating to wait for the preaching opportunities, but if your mind is on preparation and fulfilling current ministry opportunities, this time of waiting can be helpful and fruitful.

14 thoughts on “While Waiting For Your Turn To Preach

  1. Kristin Patrick says:

    I really like this topic because a lot of people think that they have to be standing in the pulpit to preach the word of God. But in many passages of the Bible Jesus was not in an actual church Matthew 5:1-2 is an example. Here he went up into a mountain preaching and did not wait for anybody to say “you can speak this week”. I brought this up because everyone of us are called to be a witness whether it be on the street, church, or in a park. It appears to me that the majority of people who need to hear the Gospel are not in church so we must meet the unsaved where they are. You also made a terrific point where you ask when it is time for you to preach your sermon would we be prepared many of us won’t be. Just going from experience some won’t have a bible present or make an excuse. What I loved most about this particular article is you mention things that can be done to prepare ourselves as we wait.

  2. Professor Cox, thanks for your words of encouragement especially those newly ministers like myself.

    I have a question, does it take long for a person to a get a license and get ordained my wife thinks my pastor is stringing me along and I believe he isn’t.


  3. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Hello Minister Jenkins,

    That is a question that is impossible for me to answer…let me tell you why. I don’t know your denominational polity. I don’t know the tradition of your congregation.

    Some churches won’t even license someone unless they have had 3 years of seminary training and are working as a pastor in a church. Some churches will license just about anyone who asks but require a training before ordination. Some churches require a number of years of successful ministry before ordination. Some churches ordain when the ordinand is about to start her or his first pastorate.

    I am not dodging your question, but I can’t answer that question…I would suggest though that you ask your pastor what are the roads to licensing and then to ordination. Ask the pastor what you lack and where you need to improve. Your wife is one important witness, but the pastor is another important witness. Ask God to reveal where you need to go and what you need to do.

    Forgive me for not being able to help you further…you can call me during my office hours if you want further discussion of the topic…God bless…

  4. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Hello Kristin Patrick,

    Yes, there is a great need for the witness of the coming kingdom to be heard (and seen) outside of the church walls. But I know you would agree with me that we must recognize that in many cases, the church houses a ton of “lost folks.” Granted in many cases, they don’t really know they are lost, but just like the coins in the parable, they are “lost in the house.” (Luke 15:8-10)

    wherever we are and wherever we go, we are to be witnesses of the Kingdom of God. Yes, our job as ministers includes the relatively enjoyable part of “preaching” but it also includes the important part of living the kingdom and loving the lost. As ministers that is our job 24 X 7.

    God Bless…

  5. Thank you for that article. As a minister, I am in the discernment phase of my calling. Although I enjoy preaching, my calling is more focused on church administration and mission work. At my church, I am used in a variety of capacities but be sure, I have a cache of sermons at the ready!

  6. scott osbourn says:

    Hello and GOD BLESS; Thank you for the article, I have been asking myself that very question for quiet a while now, Has GOD called me to preach? Without doubt I now know he has, I continue to wait upon the LORD to reveal to me each opportunity, weather its at the pulpit or in the street, woods,Wal-mart wherever, GOD has opened my eyes to see that no matter where I am at I or should I say we all can see if a brother or sister needs to be introduced to OUR FATHER GOD ALMIGHTY. I Thank GOD for saving my soul and giving me a new life and I want now for everyone in the world to have that experience with JESUS, a experience you just keep on experiencing, PRAISE GOD. Have a GREAT DAY. THANK YA GOD.

  7. Hello Dr. Cox,

    This post really helped me as well I know I have been called to preach but my own dad who is
    a pastor does not acknowledge my call. Many times when Im up before the church doing anything he rushes me to sit down quick. I just don’t understand why my own dad won’t support his son trying to walk in the call of ministry. I am 29 years old hoping to preach my first sermon asap.

  8. Rev, Rickey L. Simms says:

    Well, you’ve done it again Doctor. Medicine to help Preachers like myself to always stay in the learning mode. Always be on the lookout for ways of helping others to come to JESUS and to keep a vigil on my own life.
    GOD bless your heart”
    Rev. Rickey L. Simms
    Ebenezer M. B. Church
    210 Tilghman St.-Kenly, N.C. 27542

  9. Emma Lindsey says:

    I came upon your website this morning. I don’t know why I haven’t been told about it, but I will spread the word. What I’ve read so far have been a blessing to me. I have a class to teach to the associates in my church and if you don’t mind I will use some of your information from your article “While Waiting on Your Turn To Preach.” My pastor says waiting time should not be wasted time. We should be studying and working in our ministries or praying that God leads you to the ministry that God has prepared you for. I’m just excited to read more of what you have to say. Be blessed and continue to be a blessing to others.

    Your Sister in Christ

  10. David A. Johnson says:

    I needed confirmation of what God was telling me to do from an outside source (so to speak) in my current situation. Thanks, Professor. For all his sound advice, my dad *a 30+ yr semi-retired minister* is just too close a source in this case for once, and I obviously can’t go to my current Pastor as he is the one I feel may be overlooking me.

    In any case, thanks for the words of encouragement on doing the works in the church I do have assigned to me currently and to fight bitterness and envy (which I have REALLY been trying to do).

    I’ll be 33 this year; I was called, prophesied over, whatever the official term for it might be when I was only 6 through a traveling evangelist my dad has always trusted. Raised in a Pentecostal/Charismatic (A/G, CoG-Cleveland) background with Baptist schooling up through Jr High. The Bible is the one thing I’ve always known.

    I’ve known I’ll eventually be in some sort of pastoral ministry, but for the last 25 years, I have been putting God either on hold or have tried to put Him on my terms. because I didn’t want to put my family through the pain I went through as a kid with all the changing churches- we even lived in a school bus at one point. 2 years ago I went thru a messy divorce. I have had epilepsy since I was 18 that I have struggled with

    I feel like a cross between Paul & Job here. I’ve eventually lost everything- even come to the point of almost giving up….. but I knew God has something for me He still wants to accomplish. I just feel like I’m being held back on this end sometimes,


  11. Professor Cox, I just wanted to update on my Licensing, well it’s now official as of 29 July 2012, I gotten that CERIFICATE OF LICENSE….THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
    My pastor licensed me and one other fellow associate minister and now we are licensed preachers.
    My pastor didn’t string us along as my wife said.
    Oh by the way, we’re Missionary Baptist FYI.

    Thanx Doc for your encouraging words…….

  12. Rev. Rickey L. Simms says:

    Thank you, thank you for your ability to communicate GOD’s word through wisdom and knowledge. Asociate preaching is hard enough without preaching, meaning there are so many areas that the hard work of the LORD’s vineyard calls us to do daily, not just on Sundays. GOD is a seven day being, and in that statement, He has to be, because we won’t let Him rest on His Sabbath day. I have been in the position of walking into a church and the Pastor didn’t know me, but saw through my walk with GOD and asked me if I would do the morning service, with I gladly said yes. “I came to JESUS just as I was”, as humble as I knew how, prayed my prayer of Faith as I always do, asked GOD to speak thru me in one of my already prepared Sermons. It was actually presented better on this occasion than at it’s first presentation.. I advise all Associates to be ye also ready.

  13. Rev. Rickey L. Simms says:

    A hearty congratulations to Minister kenneth Jenkins on his Certification into Ministry. Dr. Cox is a great influence for Associates. His wisdom and knowledge of the Pulpit is His calling to help us who preach very little. I am serving in my second year as an Associate Pastor and loving it.

  14. I have been in my current position as an associate for 18months. I was hired with the idea that I will transition into the Senior Minister role. There is no plans for this for many reasons. It was initially really hard to not try and be the Youth Minister I was before, thinking that the congregation could never see me as a Lead Minister. My hesitancies and undefined role in this church have been hard. I am called to preach and pastor. I searched God and ask him to make his calling clear. He has through Scripture at opportune times and with other ministers in the area.

    This article would have been nice to read 18 months ago. I am really ministering in the moment. While elders and leaders want me to discuss the vision of the church, I try my hardest to remain focused on the youth and now worship. And not just the tasks within those roles but with people. I am pastoring in my roles. Which God will use in my next position. If it is here or elsewhere. Thanks for sharing.

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