Preaching and adrenalin

I love public speaking. I’m not one of those people who gets filled with dread standing up in front of a crowd. In fact, the bigger the crowd the better. I guess at that point I’m classically extroverted. It’s a rush. Preaching is the thing that excites me most about vocational ministry. It’s not that I think I’m good at it. I’m not. I’m not bad – this isn’t an exercise in false modesty. You’d hope with a journalism degree I’d be ok at stringing some words together. But there are a few things I struggle with. But this isn’t a post about today’s sermon.1

I’m wondering about the long term effects of the adrenalin rush I get every time I preach. I love it. For me it’s like sky diving or extreme sports. The act of getting up in front of people – regardless of what I’m actually saying. I love MCing stuff as well.

Will I get addicted to it? Is that why preachers sometimes travel the globe preaching? Does this pose long term risks to my health? Most importantly, I’m wondering how sustainable my Sunday afternoons are going to be with the post adrenalin crash. Man. What goes up sure comes down. By about 2pm I can hardly keep my eyes open. I go blank. All that energy that I gain in the morning as I get ready to preach (I reckon the adrenalin kicks in at about 8am when I’m preaching at a 9:30 service) drains out, and takes whatever reserves I have with it. I’m pretty sure the adrenalin is what gives other people preacher’s belly – though for some it’s doubtless channelled as fear rather than exuberance.

I’d love to know how others go on the adrenalin front – is the Sunday arvo crash a common thing? Not having a night service anymore seems like such a good innovation on the days I’ve preached in the morning.

1Today’s sermon was mostly good. The last little application bit felt a little tacked on, and I really wasn’t sure where to go once I’d established that I didn’t think the passage was about sexual ethics, but rather about seeking God’s kingdom. So I said that. I talked about commitment. I tied it to Jesus (which was easy because of Matthew’s genealogy). I compared the righteousness of Tamar with the unrighteousness of Judah. But blah. Blah. Blah. That’s how I felt about the last fifth of my talk.

My other little bit of self critique (and I’ll post the audio for this sermon when I get it) is that I’m much more engaging (in my opinion) when I’m illustrating and telling a story entirely in my own words, as I would naturally. And in most of these cases I leave the script behind. At times I feel like I suppress my personality a little in the writing of my talks and I end up cold and robotic rather than talking how I would normally talk. Actually, I don’t sound robotic, I sound like a journalist, not a real person. On the plus side, all the old ladies tell me I speak clearly and audibly. I don’t write an essay – I try to write the way I talk, but I suspect I haven’t beaten out the writing for TV part of my previos training. There’s something just not quite right. It’s like I’m preaching in black and white rather than colour too. For the most part. Or at least that’s how I feel. Feel free to chime in if you heard me this morning (or once you’ve listened to the audio).

3 thoughts on “Preaching and adrenalin”

  1. I mostly preach nights, and the adrenalin keeps me up till maybe 1am. Drinks in moderation and movies are a useful come down for me. There’s not exactly a crash, but the next day I tend to feel dull or dejected, which I’ve learnt is just something to be mindful of rather than something to avoid. Andrew Reid’s tip: instead of taking a day off, spend time doing simple jobs and stay clear of heavy social interactions.

    I’ve now had enough speaking experience to begin riding the nerves. Before I get up, I look for a certain level of jitteriness, that just-simmering exuberance that means I will be more animated, more fully myself, more present.

  2. The best way to avoid the post adrenaline low is to not come off the high. Excess coffee post preaching? Big time party? Rock concert? Soccer game?

    I’m an adrenaline junkie. I know the low. The worst one comes after you’ve kept up the adrenaline for an insanely long time. Wrist slitting good times.

    Re yesterday’s talk.

    Take me somewhere. Yesterday was kind of like I was on a bus trip and we saw some really cool stuff on the journey, then we stopped in the middle of nowhere and it was like, “that’s it guys. Step off the bus and if you look around they’ll be some mountains somewhere and probably a beach someone else and you know you’ll see the sun setting eventually if you look to the west…” Felt a little pointless. Craft it more. Take me somewhere (pref. somewhere I’ve not been recently). Make me feel something. Make me want God more.

    I think you’re capable of this. 75% of the sermon was really really good. Could have heard a pin drop. You had us. Then you didn’t.

    What did the passage do for you? How are you changed by it?

    Always good to bring up the evil that is oversharing. Well done getting that in.

    [The farmer bit was brilliant.]

    1. Nathan Campbell

      What did the passage do for you? How are you changed by it?

      Nothing. I wasn’t.

      To be honest, that was part of the problem. Sure. It helped me understand Jesus better – and I actually thought the God stepping in as father to solve the genetic predisposition to sin in this line (and in humanity) was good stuff.

      But any “application” of this passage seemed a bit tacked on and like painting by numbers. I should have just stopped with the Jesus stuff. Plus, I’d kind of applied a little all the way along. I’m giving up on the “finish with application” model I think.

      I think the big question asked by this passage is “why is it here” – and I think I answered that. Right off the bat. I think the weakness of the talk was that I didn’t just stop four minutes earlier.

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