How to get other people to write your sermons for you.

And how I intend to integrate the various, seemingly contradictory parts of my life.

ife as a soon-to-be college graduate is strange. If you ever look at my calendar, you’ll see a rainbow collage of events. Every type of event has its own color, and as I’m looking forward to the start of my last semester at college next week, I’m running out of colors.

There’s my classes, time to study, time for job interviews, time to pray, time to read for myself, time spent with mentors or mentees, etc. The list goes on and on, and last fall semester I had just as many colors and felt pulled in about a billion different directions. Generally though, those pulls come down to four things.

  1. On one hand, I have been blessed with a lot. I’m white, upper middle class, college educated, and male. Before getting into anything that sets me apart as a person, I already have significant advantages over 99% of the world. In my mind, the great gifts I’ve been given means I ought to do a lot for the sake of the world.
  2. On another hand, a lot of my greatest gifts as a person lie in my abilities to connect with and influence others. On top of that, I genuinely love being with people, and deeply desire to invest in deep relationships with them.
  3. However, I’m only human, and I can only do the above as well as I rest. That means I need time to myself and away from anything productive to recover. Additionally, I desire to nurture myself through reading or learning.
  4. On top of that, I’m a follower of Christ, and I want that to be an important part of my life. That means prayer, church, and service in the community.

There’s an evolving field in psychology

called decision theory or game theory (read this for more), and it focuses on why people make the decisions they do in various situations. They try to classify situations and define how humans will normally act given those circumstances.

One type of scenario is called a zero-sum game. Think of poker. There are a finite number of poker chips in any game, and for any player to gain more chips, another player has to lose some. At the end of the day, the different players are competing with one another, and for one to win another has to lose.

This past fall,

I viewed my life as a zero-sum game. I had a finite amount of time that had to be distributed between different types of events; from studying to people to my jobs to time with God. Life was like a pie, and I had to cut it to give the most amount of time to what was most important. However, to invest in people took away from my jobs or my leadership opportunities and vice-versa.

The different parts of my life became mutually exclusive, and yet my view of what was most important changed on a day to day basis. I would cut out slices of time for my friends, but by the time I actually hung out with them, I was thinking about the larger slice of time later in my day I had dedicated to writing some big paper.

I trust you’ve figured this one out on your own,

but that’s not healthy. I’m reading a book called Total Leadership right now, and it suggests that true leadership involves creative ways of engaging each part of life such that each part integrates all the others.

This likely won’t be a surprise to anyone,

but I’m reading another book called Creative Confidence. There’s a story about a pottery class split into two groups. The first group’s grade was based on the quality of the pottery they produced over the course of the semester, while the second group’s grade was based on the quantity. For each piece they produced regardless of which group they were in, each student received feedback from the professor to improve on the next one. While the first group invested in meticulously crafted products, ironically, the group graded on quantity ended up producing the better pottery by the end of the semester.

Macklemore has a quote saying,

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they painted a lot.”

The authors of that book suggest we should all use an iterative creative process. Basically, you come up with an idea, immediately produce it, and then get feedback as soon as possible. Then you use that feedback to improve on the idea over and over again.

My thought is this;

Live image of my sermon writing process.

2–3 weeks out of every month, I write a sermon. I view that act as taking away from my time with people or even God, because doing so is normally a solitary process, but now I’m questioning that. For example, what would an iterative sermon look like? And could using the iterative process in sermon writing allow me to integrate my community into something I normally consider solitary?

On top of that, I think real time feedback through the creative process will make the things I preach significantly better. I already have a few people I’m going to reach out to, but if you want to be a part of this, let me know. Just shoot me an email (lorne.jaques13@gmail.com) or a text (714–768–1997) and we’ll go from there.

I honestly have no idea exactly how this will work, but frankly I need to integrate my life, and this is as good a starting place as any. Above all, I want God to rule the way my life goes, but more than that, I want to find ways to rest through my work, and find ways to turn work into communal exercises, and make my time with people restful.

So, hopefully soon you’ll be helping me write my sermons too.

Writer. Teacher. Pastor. Interpreter of strange times, and aspiring polymath.