The Wrong Sermon Title?

When pastors at Grace prepare to preach on a passage of Scripture, one of the steps of our preparation is creating the sermon outline that appears in the Worship Program on Sunday. Having to create such an outline is useful for us as preachers, because this forces us to distill our study down to main points that cohere in a logical fashion. Sometimes the most difficult element in preparing the outline is creating the sermon title. The title, at least in theory, represents the essence of the sermon, hopefully in some catchy or creative way. A fitting title can be elusive.

I chose to title last Sunday’s sermon “The Ultimate Leader,” but I wasn’t completely happy with this choice. Though I knew how the passage related to leadership, I sensed that it would be difficult to explain this in the sermon itself, and I also knew that the passage addressed leadership by implication rather than direct statement. Perhaps the Pastors’ Blog is the right forum in which to clear all of this up.

Isaiah 9:1–7, particularly verses 6 and 7, depict the coming Messiah as the ultimate ruler, one who brings about victory, establishing justice, righteousness, and peace. Under His care people will experience unparalleled flourishing. Viewed through a modern lens, we might say this is a glowing endorsement of His success as a leader.

This is exciting for Christians in two ways. First, it gives us assurance and hope that our eternal future is one of meaningful existence, rather than some sort of disembodied state. Second, and more germane to the modern-day discussion of leadership, those of us who are in relationship with this ultimate leader have the privilege of serving as His deputies in the here and now. We lead others into a foretaste of this future reign when we transform our relationships and organizations such that they reflect harmony, integrity, self-sacrificing love, and concern for others’ welfare. Jesus is the ultimate leader, and He commissions us as leaders to go into a broken world as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), previewing in small measure what His future kingdom will look like.

Now it’s your turn. Where have you seen servants of Christ leading such that they create environments of flourishing that remind you of Isaiah 9?

Beau Stanley and his wife, Stacey, both grew up in the Columbus area and have been part of Grace Polaris Church for most of their lives. Beau joined the Grace staff in 2007 after theology studies in the Chicago area and in Phoenix (Phoenix Seminary). Prior to that, he studied commerce (University of Virginia) and worked in the financial industry, including a role as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Beau is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys music and learning about diverse topics. Beau and Stacey have two young boys.

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2 Responses

  1. Sarah Martin says:

    It doesn’t matter what the title was…the content was what mattered. I so very thoroughly enjoyed the message and I “learned” from your God-inspired teaching. That’s what I look for in any preaching situation…”was I able to learn from the presentation of God’s Word”? As always, you, Pastor Beau, did not disappoint!!

    • Beau Stanley says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Sarah! Glad that the Lord spoke to you through the sermon. That is certainly the goal, title notwithstanding!

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