When I was preaching every week, one thing that was always a concern in the back of my mind was... when the time came that I wasn't preaching, would I be able to sit and listen to someone else? I was afraid it might be difficult for me; that I would listen with a critical ear; or, worse yet, that I would constantly be comparing my preaching to theirs ("I wouldn't have said that," or "why didn't they mention this?", etc., etc.). I have to say, though, that I have been quite content with listening and learning. I actually don't miss preaching at all. I thought I would. In reality, it is quite refreshing to listen to and learn from others - and sometimes from people who aren't all that good at teaching/preaching. I truly believe we can learn something from anyone though, and for now anyway, I am very comfortable doing that.
So it got me to thinking this past weekend, as I listened to a preacher I'd never heard before - was I 'out of position' all those 14 years that I preached on a weekly basis? I certainly used to like to preach. I liked researching, writing, and crafting sermons. It was invigorating. I was not a super communicator like some people, but I think I was okay. I don't think it was forced at all. I even vaguely remember feeling that it was exactly what I was born to do - especially in a small church. So maybe it was just one of those things that I was supposed to do for a time, and now my time is up. Or maybe I wasn't really that good at it and I never knew. Or, perhaps, like my counselor said, I was simply burned out and needed a break. I have to wonder, had things not ended the way they did - with a group of leaders who seemed intent on completely humiliating me as a pastor and a person - maybe I would want to preach again. But I don't. I know that could change, especially if I ever get over the hurt and pain, but for now I really like listening and learning. And I'm glad that I do... because I can't imagine ever being able to preach again.