In rereading Kierkegaard’s Training in Christianity I came across this searching admonition to preachers.
“Hence it is a venturesome thing to preach; for when I mount to that sacred place [the pulpit] – whether the church be crowded or as good as empty – I have, though I myself may not be aware of it, one hearer in addition to those that are visible to me, namely God in heaven, whom I cannot see it is true, but who truly can see me. This hearer listens attentively to discover whether what I say is true, and He looks also to discern (as well He can, for He is invisible, and in that way it is impossible to be on one’s guard against Him) – so He looks to see whether my life expresses what I say. And although I possess no authority to impose an obligation upon any other person, yet what I have said in the course of the sermon puts me under obligation – and God has heard it. Truly it is a venturesome thing to preach! Doubtless most people have a notion that it requires courage to step out on the stage like and actor and venture to encounter the danger of having all eyes fixed upon one. And yet this danger is in a sense, like everything else on the stage, an illusion; for personally the actor is aloof from it all, his part is to deceive, to disguise himself, to represent another, and to transmit accurately the words of another. The preacher of Christian truth, on the other hand, steps out into a place, even if all eyes are not fixed upon him, the eye of omniscience is; his part is to be himself, and that in an environment, God’s house, which, being all eye and ear, requires of him only this, that he be himself, be true. ‘That he be true’ – this means that he himself is what he preaches, or at least strives to be that, or at the very least is sober enough to admit that he is not. Alas, and how many who in mounting to this sacred place to preach Christianity are keen enough of hearing to detect the repugnance and scorn which this sacred place feels for him at hearing him preach with enthusiasm, in moving tones, with tears, the opposite of that which his life expresses.”
Makes one want to spend much time in prayer before preaching, pleading for honesty and authenticity before God and others.