We all get tired. Somebody once told me the crucial question for ministers was not, "Am I tired in the work?" but, "Am I tired of the work?" I have to admit there've been times when I could answer either query in the weary affirmative.
Even preaching, my first love in the ministry, the thing I truly feel called to do, I've gotten tired in and of. There have been days when I felt I could make more impact throwing beans against the wall (or at the folks in the pews!) than by preaching. There have been days when study time insidiously morphed into e-mail time and sermon preparation sailed dangerously close to sermon rehashing. Even though I try to remain fresh and engaging, the very words I'm required to use Sunday after Sunday — believe, repent, confess, even Jesus — can sometimes lose their flavor. Depending on what's going on in the church — infighting, a scandal, simple doldrums — an imp seems to hover near my eye with brush and jaundice- palette. I'm tempted to cynicism.
Been there? Because we preach as sinners to fellow sinners, we all have. Thankfully, for most of us, such times don't last. Thankfully, God's grace and power somehow waft back to our lives, lifting the sagging sails, refilling our preaching with purpose, clarity, and emotion.
It might be a vacation that does the trick or maybe a conference. The rekindling of power might come with sunshine after weeks of slate-gray skies. Or maybe it comes wrapped in some member's thoughtful, encouraging note.
Once upon a time, when my pulpit power plug hung slightly loose in its socket, a movie stuck it back in. "Don't tell me," you say. "Let me guess. It was A Man Called Peter." No. "The Apostle?" No. "Chariots of Fire, A Man For All Seasons, Demetrius and the Gladiators?" No, as a matter of fact, it wasn't even what you'd call a "religious" movie. It was Galaxy Quest.
In the film, Galaxy Quest is an old TV show featuring the gallant crew of the spaceship Protector. After the show's cancellation, its typecast stars can't find other roles. For years, they've been making a living by appearing at science-fiction conventions, charging big bucks for autographed photos. They're nervous, edgy people on the brink of despair. And then fate enters their lives in the person of aliens from a distant galaxy. Having monitored Galaxy Quest from outer space, the childlike Thermians think it's real. They come to Earth to secure the help of their heroes in their battle against an evil conqueror.
Alexander Dane, who played the noble Dr. Lazarus on Galaxy Quest, is thoroughly disgusted with the turn his life has taken. "I was an actor once," he declares once again to his long-suffering cast mates. "I played Richard the Third! Now look at me, look at me! And I won't do it — I won't say that stupid line again!" The line he finds so distasteful is, "By Grap-thar's hammer, by the sons of Wor-van, you shall be avenged!" It's the words all those chubby, pasty-faced conventioneers, got up in their cheap Galaxy Quest costumes, pant for him to say.