It’s a term that sounds vaguely medical, as in, “I went to the doctor today and he told me that I have a bad case of unction in my lower GI tract.” Or it sounds like a term my mechanic would throw at me: “Yeah man, your unction piston is cracked right down the middle and we’re going to need to replace the entire engine block.”
But the word “unction” actually has a rich history behind it, even if we don’t use it too much any more. And let me tell you, I desperately need unction.
Unction is what separates a mighty sermon from a boring lecture. Unction is what causes a sermon to pierce the heart of a listener. Unction is what transforms a sermon from a boring load of facts to a mighty, God-filled, life-changing sermon.
Unction is what happens when the Holy Spirit puts life-giving power into the words spoken by a pastor. Unction is what happens when the Holy Spirit transforms a preacher’s words into weapons of divine warfare. Unction is what happens when the Holy Spirit causes the words of a pastor to become bullets of conviction.
See, here’s the deal. I could spend hours crafting the perfect sermon. I could have perfect illustrations that connect directly to people’s lives. I could have penetrating insight into the biblical text. I could speak with the tongues of men and angels! But without the Holy Spirit moving, without unction, absolutely nothing will happen. No lives will be changed. No hearts will be moved. No conviction or confession or adoration will take place. Christ will not be exalted. My sermon will be nothing more than words. The words may be interesting, they may be funny, but they won’t be life-changing.
Charles Spurgeon said:
Where there is no unction, it does not matter what we preach or how we preach it.
Spurgeon was the Prince of Preachers. If he needed unction, I do too.
When your pastor steps into the pulpit, pray that the Holy Spirit will give him unction. Pray that your pastor will be filled with Spirit-given passion and that his words will be propelled by Spirit-given power. Your pastor may not be Matt Chandler or Mark Driscoll, but with unction, the results of his sermon can be the same. Your pastor may not preach like Piper, but he can have the same Holy Spirit as Piper and the same unction as Piper.
So please, pray for your pastor. He desperately needs it. And you desperately need him to have unction too. Because without unction, there’s a good chance that the words of his sermon will bounce right off you.