I had the opportunity to preach at Cornerstone of Lakewood Ranch the Saturday evening, and Sunday morning after Christmas. The only problem was that I had a bad cold/sore throat with very little voice. After I finished the Saturday night service, I told my wife that I wasn’t sure if there were enough voice left for two more services. So I prayed, asked people to pray, drank some tea, and just barely squeaked through. Never been so thankful simply to finish preaching.
Here are some of my reflections on preaching without a voice.
1.) Silently Singing. In order to save my voice, I began “singing silently.” What I mean by that is that I simply mouthed the words without any volume and thus without further strain on my drained vocal chords. I wasn’t just mouthing “watermelon” or anything; I was reading the words. But something happened that surprised me: nothing. I couldn’t hear myself sing, and therefore, I couldn’t even process what I was “mouthing.” Nothing was happening when I couldn’t hear myself sing. It wasn’t connecting to my head or my heart. Maybe it was just me? But I had never realized how important it is to at least hear oneself sing (yes, I know I do sing in the least respected “key of H”). I don’t mind loud music in worship. However, when it become so loud that one can’t even hear his own voice, it might be time to turn the dial down from “11” (a la Spinal Tap). How much real engagement might you be having with what you are singing and to whom you are singing?
2.) Personality. “They” say you always want to be you when you preach. I’ll never be Tim Keller, nor should I even try. I need to be me. But when you don’t have much of a voice, and you have to speak monotone to ensure that you’ll make it through, you can’t truly be yourself. Unless of course you are a monotone speaker. I am not. As a result, I never felt like I could be me. Then God humbled me when I realized that people didn’t need so much for me to be me, they needed God to be God. Holy Spirit illuminating hearts and minds, directing them to glorify the Father by seeing Jesus more clearly. Not me. Not my inflections, excitement, passion, or whatever. God didn’t need me, nor did the people need me. They needed Jesus.
I also realized that if I rely on my personality, not only am I not relying on God, but I’m also limiting whom I reach. My personality may not always fit everyone in a church. But if the Spirit is at work and Christ is lifted up, that can trump even one’s personality.
I hope I never lose my voice like that again. But I’ll be wiser, more dependent, and yet still more confident if I do.