I’m stealing this from Steven Furtick.

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In keeping with the spirit of this post, I’ll note that I’m sure this thought isn’t original with me (no good ones are). But I don’t remember exactly how it originated, so I’ll post it as my own.
—END DISCLAIMER—

When it comes to using stuff from other people in sermon preparation, there are 3 kinds of preachers:

1. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and admit it
2. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and lie about it
3. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and are so delusional they don’t even realize they are doing it

Bottom line: Everybody is ripping off somebody, whether they realize it or not.
Of course, there are sub categories for each of these categories. And I don’t want to rehash old arguments about whether or not it’s appropriate to “preach other people’s sermons”.
As for me, I study hard, pray hard, think hard, and preach hard. I feel my delivery is very authentic and unique to who I am. And I discern the heart of what God wants to say to our congregation first and foremost in planning and preparing the context and content of my sermons.

Someone told me last night they were planning on ripping off one of my sermons and my response was: “If my bullet fits your gun, shoot it.”
(I didn’t make that line up either.)
I love when something God originates through me goes beyond me. You can call that being ripped off if you want to. I call it being used by God. My friend called me last week and informed me he sang a song that I wrote while leading worship for 8000 people, and it “wrecked the joint”. He meant that in a good way. Was I upset that he “ripped off” my song? What do you think? I was honored.

So, as one who regularly rips off others, and rather enjoys being ripped off himself, let me give you a piece of advice when ripping off the ideas of others:

Steal the stuff you suck at.
Tap the strengths of others to compensate for your weaknesses. This will allow you to play to your communicative strengths.
For instance, I don’t have to steal many stories, analogies, or one liners from other guys. That’s my communicative sweet spot, so I’m usually covered there.

What I tend to suck at is condensing complicated historical backgrounds when preaching through an Old Testament passage. At least I used to suck at it. Now, I’m getting pretty good, because I learn from the masters. I encourage you to do the same. Pinpoint where you’re naturally strong as a communicator (I recommend asking others to help you identify this), and lean into these strengths wholeheartedly.
Then identify what components of your communication tend to regularly struggle or drag, and steal approaches and angles from the guys who are good at it.

This allows the uniqueness of the voice that God has given you to cut through the clutter of your natural limitations. It’s not taking a shortcut. It’s just intelligent development.

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