That being said, I have a confession to make. Sometimes while someone else is preaching, I fall asleep.
Lots of pastors would probably be alarmed that another pastor would dare fall asleep during someone else’s sermon, but I do. Being a sermon sleeper gives me a unique perspective into their world, and so as a pastor, I am not insulted if one of my members falls asleep on me.
There are three main reasons I fall asleep during sermons:
1. Stillness is a sedative to me.
When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with what is now called ADHD. For many reasons, I am convinced this “illness” does not really exist and certainly does not require medication, but that’s another matter. What is important is that I have to be doing something all the time or I will fall asleep. This is especially true if I am sitting comfortably in a dim-lit room and being quiet and still. It’s why if I am driving, I need to be talking to someone or singing to music to avoid sleeping at the wheel.
2. I have young children.
If you are a parent with young children, you understand. Your world is a whirlwind of dirty diapers, fits, and activities. So sometimes, no, I did not get enough sleep the night before Mr. Preacher, but it was in service to the least of these.
3. You are boring.
I saved the best for last, because this one is going to get some preacher’s blood boiling. The usual rebuttal is, “If you find my sermons boring, then you find Jesus our Lord boring!” Not necessarily true, Mr. Preacher. Here’s how:
A. Your sermon isn’t about Jesus.
You start with a verse from Scripture, and you talk a lot about “God.” You talk about how we should all stop doing this, and start doing that. You talk about how following the Bible will enrich our lives. But somewhere in your sermon prep, Jesus wound up on the cutting floor. The sermon never actually points to the Cross, and the Gospel, if presented at all, is thrown in at the end. This sir, is a boring sermon.
B. You don’t believe what your preach.
You talk about Jesus. You talk about the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Atonement. You preach the Gospel itself, but you don’t really believe it and/or mean it. This doesn’t mean you aren’t a believer, but it does mean your spiritual tank is empty and for whatever reason, you didn’t invite the Holy Spirit to come preach through you. Despite what you think, it’s terribly obvious to everyone, and it makes your sermon really, really boring.
To anyone under my preaching that falls asleep, I extend grace to you. Maybe life is tough right now and you can’t find time to sleep to save your life. Maybe you have a health issue that’s keeping you sedated in those comfy pews. And maybe my sermon was boring either because I missed the Gospel or did not preach in the Spirit, and if that’s true, then I need your forgiveness.
To preachers who burst a blood vessel when someone falls asleep: First, judge not. You have no idea what that person’s story is right now. Their circumstances may be such that you would be ashamed of yourself if you knew. Secondly, examine your heart. Why are you so angry? Is it truly because Christ has been mocked, or is it your own vanity?