If working ahead, we produce a talk that is creative, well-organized, easily delivered, emotional, and simple. If getting beat, we produce a talk that is thrown together, confusing, tired, and cliched.
If working ahead, the creative support (worship, videos, etc.) are intentional, clean, supportive of the main point, and communicable. If getting beat, the creative support is haphazard and lacking unity.
If working ahead, my spirit is in line with God’s Spirit, free of undue pressure, stress, and anxiety, having allowed time for the messages, thoughts, and ideas to simmer. If getting beat, my spirit is only in line with my own spirit, focused on my delivery, my thoughts, my approach, and not God’s.
What’s working ahead? Honestly, that’s up to you to decide. For us, we continually try to be anywhere from 6-12 weeks ahead. If we are getting beat, we are using the week before to prepare for the most important hour we’ll spend with junior high students.
It’s a constant struggle and game. It’s competitive. Trying to beat the calendar and the clock.
But in the end (and trust me, we get beat more often than not), you either work ahead or get beat. There is no in between.