When I first started preaching, I had taken over a church that was holding three Sunday services – two in the morning and one in the afternoon. I felt like I needed to constantly be “on”, better and better with each service. More and more polished with every point I touched on, illustration I laid out, and application to be taken away. It was a performance in every sense of the word, judging by how the church shrunk over the next year, not a very good one, but a performance none-the-less.
After that whole day, I would get home, mumble something to my wife as I came in the door, kiss my infant son and zone out on the couch with a heated up plate of leftovers for dinner. Preaching took so much out of me: performing, having to get better every time, digging deeper like my life was on the line, and navigating the criticisms that come to new preachers. At one point I found myself praying and seeking out a new job as an associate pastor just so I didn’t have to preach every week.
Then I discovered the after preach nap.
It’s Not About the Nap
This isn’t just about the nap, but also about how I approached my preaching. When I began to preach full-time, I felt the need to perform, to put on a show, to be perfect. And you don’t need to be a prophet to figure out how that left me spiritually drained and not enjoying preaching God’s word.
So I needed to change. I need to be free. I needed to actually believe the gospel I was preaching which says that in Christ I am free to serve him, free from the need to perform to win his approval or the approval of my church. As I began to learn this truth, meditate on it, and apply it into my preaching, I took a nap.
The preaching was still exhausting but in a far more “full” way. In a way where I focused on praying consistently for the souls and lives of the people I was preaching to as I preached, remembering their stories, struggles, and desires. Asking the Lord to work through me again and again and feeling God’s pleasure as I proclaimed his Good News.
So, I nap. To the glory of God, I take a nap after preaching because the work in the effectiveness of my preaching has been taken care of, not that morning at service, but on Calvary a couple of millennia ago.
What The Nap is Really About
In many ways the complete work of Christ makes a nap a needed action because I am declaring that any victory that was won through my sermon was won before I spoke my first words. This nap was gifted to me by my God who loves me and gave his Son for me, and in that knowledge I can rest.
So preacher, if you are wrapped around the axle so tight after your sermon, worried about what people think, or are given to concern about your effectiveness, please take to heart these words and see that taking a nap, or just letting go of your anxieties after preaching, is a needed gift and helpful task given to you by your Heavenly Father.