The prolific Will Willimon has produced a monograph based on a series of lectures about preaching.
In this excerpt he points out the freedom of a preacher who serves the word, and how that service meets the true needs of the congregation far better than the congregations’ own perceptions of what they need from a preacher.
Originality can’t be a chief concern of a preacher. We are servants of and advocates for the text, not its masters. Polls show that contemporary Christians want “authenticity” or “sincerity,” as if the value of preaching resides in the disposition of preachers and the judgment of the hearers. The demand that we be authentic or heartfelt in the pulpit is yet another means of listeners trimming divine discourse to suit themselves, as if preaching is self-display by the preacher for self-improvement of self-interested congregations. (How would either listeners or we know when we’re inauthentic? Better just to demand that we not screw up the text.)
To be forced by Scripture to be servants of the demanding Word, rather than servile to our congregations, is true pastoral freedom. We are free to speak not out of personal preference, existential concern, or desperation to preserve intramural relationships, but rather to offer what we have received in our encounter with Scripture.
From Preachers Dare, pgs 70-71.