About nine years ago when I was an associate pastor in south Louisiana, Dr. Steven Lawson taught a workshop for our local association on Expository Preaching. I was actually sick and had a headache at the time but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Dr. Lawson did a phenomenal job (as he always does) of explaining the nuts and bolts of Expository preaching and its Biblical mandate and model.
At the time I was still young(er) and had not had the pulpit time or pastoral experience I have now had. I was a good student at an undergrad Bible college and was currently enrolled in seminary and had spent a lot of time with biblical languages, background, and even travel in biblical lands. When I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Lawson after the seminar I remarked to him, “I think I am really good at giving biblical background and an explanation of the text, but where I really struggle is the application of the text… ” Dr. Lawson, in a kind and pastoral tone, basically told me I had never preached. He responded, “well, I believe application is when a sermon becomes a sermon.” That gentle correction has helped me over the last near-decade in thought and preparation for sermons. Not that every sermon has been a “homerun” or that I’ve even felt good after every message preached, but I have made it a pastoral priority in study to consider how the text actually applies to the group I am speaking to and how the biblical truths touch our every day lives.
As Dr. Lawson himself would point out, the Puritans were quite effective with this and would’ve spent anywhere from a third to a half of their sermons on application (after textual explanation and doctrinal truths). We should never go to the pulpit claiming to be expository if we are not also explanatory in how these biblical truths speak to our lives.
I doubt Dr. Lawson would remember me, but I am thankful he took a moment to be pastoral and prophetic in my life and I pray that it has resulted in pastoral benefit to many other lives. Thank you Dr. Lawson!