My earliest Sundays were spent crying in my little car seat or singing “Jesus Loves Me” in my church’s nursery. Still, my pastor stood behind the wooden pulpit and proclaimed the Word of God like he had for years. Young as I was, his sermons mattered in my life.
The preaching of the truth (John 17:17) poured sound wisdom into the lives of my young, inexperienced parents—the parents who led me to Jesus when I was 5 years old, modeled Christ to me, gave biblical answers to my deep questions, and faithfully took me to church each week. It mattered in the lives of my nursery workers and Sunday school teachers. They faithfully loved me week in and week out, and God used them to be some of the first people to give me the gospel in a way my little mind could understand.
Growing Under the Word
As I grew a little older and began sitting in “big church,” Pastor could probably see me counting the lights on the ceiling or doodling a flower in my notebook. But his preaching of the Word mattered then too. Not only was it a means of spiritual growth for those directly discipling me at the time, but it was also a training ground as I watched those around me attentive to God’s Word. Sitting through a sermon wasn’t something new when my understanding of and love for the Bible grew. And there were still truths my young mind gleaned from these sermons.
The preaching of the truth poured sound wisdom into the lives of my young, inexperienced parents—who led me to Jesus when I was 5 years old.
As I entered middle school and high school, Pastor might have seen a teen girl with droopy eyelids leaning on her mom’s shoulder. This may have been discouraging for him. After all, he cared deeply about the congregation, dedicated his life to teaching them the Bible, and studied hard for his sermons. But don’t be fooled—that tired teenager heard more than he thought, and it mattered more than he knew. I could write pages and pages of what God taught me through Pastor’s Sunday sermons at this age.
When I was a new senior in high school, I fought the most brutal spiritual battle I’ve encountered. I believe that Satan knew this was a critical time in my life, and he was trying to take advantage of it. For months, I struggled to pick up my Bible, feared I’d never been saved, and, in the darkest moments, even doubted God’s existence. Once I recognized the lies for what they were, I knew I had to fight them with truth.
What was one of the primary means God used to give me the encouragement and equipping needed to fight this battle? You guessed it: the faithful exposition of God’s Word at church. I was no longer crying in my car seat, doodling in my notebook, or falling asleep on my parents’ shoulders. I was sitting straight up, with a restlessness in my heart and a battle in my soul. And the proclamation of the Word mattered in this season like it mattered in all the rest.
Pastor didn’t know what I was struggling with, but God has never been limited by man’s limitations. God knew exactly what I needed to hear, and Pastor was dedicated to proclaiming what God said. Sunday after Sunday in this dark season, God showed himself to be true and faithful by always giving me the truths I needed to fight Satan’s lies that week. Praise God, I came out of that season with stronger faith and assurance in my Savior than ever before.
When I moved away to college last year, I no longer heard Pastor’s sermons every week. Yet they still mattered, not only in the lives of those I love but in my own life.
Pastor’s preaching set my standards high as I looked for other pastors to learn from. I wasn’t looking for showy teachers who could make me feel good and give inspiring speeches. I was looking for people who, like Pastor, take God’s Word literally, study it carefully, and proclaim it faithfully. Additionally, I still go online and listen to Pastor’s sermons from years ago when I have questions from my personal Bible study, and I’m always encouraged when I’m back for a visit.
God knew exactly what I needed to hear, and Pastor was dedicated to proclaiming what God said.
The Bible’s power has never been bound by generations, cultures, or human imperfections. It’s a sharp sword (Heb. 4:12) that changes lives, saves souls, convicts sinners, and gives hope to the humble. The Bible matters to 5-year-olds, and the Bible matters to 50-year-olds. To doubt the Bible’s sufficiency and immutable power is to doubt God himself, for he said, “[My Word] shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” and “the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 55:11; 40:8).
According to Romans 10:14, for someone to hear the powerful Word of God, someone else has to proclaim it. Dear pastors, proclaiming God’s Word is the greatest responsibility and privilege God gave you, so never neglect or belittle it. Be encouraged—it matters more than you realize.
It matters to the worn parents, the persevering Sunday school teachers, the faith-filled elderly, the doubting teenagers, and the college kids you kind of miss when they’re gone. And it matters to that little girl who’s crying, coloring, and sleeping in the back of your congregation.