Sinclair Ferguson gives ten helpful commandments for preaching. Here’s the eighth, Find Your Own Voice:
“Voice” here is used in the sense of personal style—“know yourself” if one can Christianize the wisdom of the philosophers.
That being said, finding a voice—in the literal sense—is also important. The good preacher who uses his voice badly is a rara avis indeed. Clearly, affectation should be banned; nor are we actors whose voices are molded to the part that is to be played. But our creation as the image of God, creatures who speak—and speak his praises and his word—really requires us to do all we can with the natural resources the Lord has given us.
But it is “voice” in the metaphorical sense that is really in view here—our approach to preaching that makes it authentically “our” preaching and not a slavish imitation of someone else. Yes, we may—must—learn from others, positively and negatively. Further, it is always important when others preach to listen to them with both ears open: one for personal nourishment through the ministry of the word, but the other to try to detect the principles that make this preaching helpful to people.
We ought not to become clones. Some men never grow as preachers because the “preaching suit” they have borrowed does not actually fit them or their gifts. Instead of becoming the outstanding expository preacher, or redemptive-historical, or God-centered, or whatever their hero may be, we may tie ourselves in knots and endanger our own unique giftedness by trying to use someone else’s paradigm, style, or personality as a mold into which to squeeze ourselves. We become less than our true selves in Christ. The marriage of our personality with another’s preaching style can be a recipe for being dull and lifeless. So it is worth taking the time in an ongoing way to try to assess who and what we really are as preachers in terms of strengths and weaknesses.