josh preachingI’ll never forget the “ah ha” moment I had with the Lord during one particular Sunday morning worship service. Several years ago, our church was in a transitional period, without a pastor, and various preachers and evangelists would fill the pulpit each week. On this Sunday morning, it was a dear family friend of ours who was providing the message. Joshua Solowey. He was 19 years old at that time, and we had known his family for years. It had been fascinating watching Josh grow up and witnessing all he was allowing the Lord to do in and through his young life.

Josh’s apparel that day was notable. Staying true to his die-hard, never-wavering love for Tennessee Volunteer football (and in spite of his family’s move to Kentucky), Josh sported a tan suit and a UT-orange tie. But even more memorable was the sincerity and humility adorning the young preacher. Josh was preaching his heart out that day, delivering a message of hope and conviction with great excitement. Some in the congregation – likely the elderly more seasoned folks – might have received the morning message as a “pep talk coming from a whipper-snapper of a preacher.” But there wasn’t a person in the pews who could doubt Josh’s authentic passion for Jesus. He had listened to the Lord, studied the Scriptures; and as Josh preached from the Word of God, hearts were stirred, challenged, and encouraged.

At some point in his sermon, Josh made a statement that I have, since that morning, reflected upon time and time again. As a matter of fact, I’ve often shared his ideology in speaking sessions. He said that his message that morning was so simple. Josh stated that the direction, the source, and the motivation behind all that he was saying had a clear origin. His claim went a bit like this … “You see, what I am preaching this morning, is so simple. I just started reading and studying the Bible; God spoke to me, and now I’m just telling you what God told me. It’s like this message is God’s sermon that He preached to me, for my life, and now I’m just telling you what He said to me.”

At that time, I thought, Wow. What a neat thought! I had never viewed the ministry of preaching or teaching like that. I left the church that Sunday morning, pondering Josh’s claim. Perhaps he had uncovered a great truth in regard to sermons preached and Bible lessons taught.

In 2012 with the birth of Enough Grace Ministries, God began opening doors for me to speak at various women and students events. I solemnly accept this opportunity knowing the responsibility that comes with the calling. (James 3:1) Over the past three years as I have prepared and spoken at various gatherings, I have clearly seen and been convinced of the validity of Josh’s rationale. Yes, I see. I get it. A speaking ministry – whether preaching, teaching, facilitating, etc. – is just as Josh described. A communicator, called by God, is spoken to by God from His Word; that spokesperson receives God’s message, is impacted, convicted, and encouraged; and then he/she simply shares that truth with others. If I ever had to describe the speaking ministry of Enough Grace Ministries, it would be just as Josh had explained during my “ah ha” moment of years gone by: God speaks to me through His Word. It convicts me, challenges me, encourages me. I receive it, and then I extend that same message to others. And if one person can be blessed and encouraged in his/her walk with Jesus, then the ministry mission is accomplished!

After reflecting upon Josh’s declaration for several years now, I have recently found a Scriptural incident that supports his – and now, my – claim regarding speaking/preaching ministries. In the book of Ezra, we read the account of Ezra, who served as a priest and scribe, leading the second group of Jews from exile back into Jerusalem. In chapter 7, God gives to us Ezra’s step-by-step plan of ministry.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

Do you see that? A sermon, a Sunday School lesson, a Scriptural presentation at a meeting, a Bible-related discussion shared before a group of students, a time of Bible study conducted among a small group … any and all ministry speaking opportunities should be inspired by the step-by-step plan as observed by Ezra. Preaching a sermon is simple. Presenting a Bible study is not complex. We are to set our hearts to do the following: As communicators, 1.) we are to study the Bible; 2.) we are to apply what God teaches us; and then 3.) if the Lord provides the opportunity, we are to teach/extend those truths/Biblical instructions to others. That, my friend, is exactly how Josh described his impacting delivery that never-forgotten Sunday morning. So simple. And now so clearly understood from the book of Ezra.

Can we keep that before us? As God opens opportunities for me to share, will I be committed to God’s three-fold plan? As you teach your class, facilitate your small group, or lead in Bible study, will you stay true to God’s design for a speaking ministry? The keys to Ezra’s impact as a leader are outlined before us. Joshua Solowey’s declaration provides a confirming, modern-day testimony, and now you and I must commit to the three-step process.

Lord, help me purpose my heart to study Your Word. May I do all You command me. And then, Father, as You provide opportunities, may I simply share with others what You have taught me.

(a simple prayer for us all)