‘Be quick to listen’ (James 1:19)
I was wonderfully saved by the grace of God at the age of 16. Since that day, I always believed that one day I would be preaching the amazing Word of God. I therefore decided that I would listen as best as I could to the preaching of God’s Word and learn that Word as much as I could.
I remember sitting on the edge of my seat as a teenager, as the Founder Pastor of our church, Dr Colton Wickramaratne would preach his anointed and inspiring sermons week after week, trying to learn as to what made those sermons come alive. Besides Ps Colton, I would eagerly look forward to hearing other men of God who would come in to our church as missionaries or guest preachers. Among the many who did come, I vividly remember the preaching of Pastors Mark Buntain, Syvelle Phillips and Arthur Speldewinde, besides many others, as they expounded God’s Word skillfully. Being an avid short-wave radio listener, I would also spend many hours listening to Christian Radio Stations. Memories of programs like ‘The Hour of Decision’ and ‘Unshackled’ come to mind. I was listening and trying to learn.
A few years later, God opened a door for me to join the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation as a Presenter. Initially, I was rostered on the short-wave channel that was beamed to South Asia by the station. This was a blessing in disguise since many Christian programs were broadcast on this channel, some of them being ‘The Hour of Decision’ with Billy Graham, ‘Back to the Bible’ with Warren Wiersbe and ‘Living Waters’ which was broadcast by our own church and produced by one of my mentors, Paul Beling. I kept listening and trying to learn.
In the 90’s, I completed a course in Homiletics done by a lecturer named Selwyn Elbourne, which added great value to my skills as a preacher. From then on, I have listened and learned from the preaching of my pastoral colleagues at the People’s Church and the Senior Pastor of our Church, Dishan Wickramaratne.
In May this year, I had the blessed privilege of attending the National Conference on Preaching 2015, held in Jacksonville, Florida. It was such an inspiration to hear anointed preachers like H.B.Charles Jr, Robert Smith, Michael Duduit and many more. I listened and learned.
All this has helped me develop in small strides as a Preacher, with much, much more to learn. I am still listening and trying to learn so that I can improve further as a herald of God’s Word.
Whether you preach or teach the Word of God, whether you preach to adults, the elderly, young people or children and whether you preach as a Pastor, Evangelist or Teacher, I would like to encourage you to never stop learning how to improve your skills. That involves listening and listening keenly. ‘Be quick to listen’!