"it is not you who speak"

The area where I have been most inclined to "work hard" is in preaching or teaching, preparing things to say in a talk or trying to write much or write well. Many other Christians also put a lot of hard work into this. And Jesus also preached quite a bit. But does his preaching show a lot of hard work on his part, preparing sermons, writing long treatises?

I immediately recall how Jesus speaks of his teaching in John:

"I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me." (Jn 12.49-50)
Again, he speaks like a prophet. Jesus' words are not his creation, his work; he speaks God's words as he is told to speak them. And the same thing appears in his instructions for his folowers:
"You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Mt 10.18-20)
They are to preach, but it will not be their hard work that produces the words, but the Spirit of God speaking through them.

This is further emphasized by the fact that Jesus and most of his disciples were not well educated:
About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. The Jews marveled at it, saying, "How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?" So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me..." (Jn 7.14-16)
Because this helps people see that the teaching is God's and not some human work, it is not surprising that Jesus picks mostly uneducated fishermen to be his spokesmen. People's response to their teaching was the same as to Jesus: "Where did they get this?" Which is an excellent question to be asking.

And then there's Paul, who was well educated. Yet he seems to have been careful to honor Jesus' words to his first disciples: "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of setting aside his abilities to speak impressively or with the human art of persuasion:
When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor 2.1-5)
Again, the reason is that God should be the center of attention, and that people's faith should rest on him, rather than on the abilities or craft of the speaker.

This all seems to point in the opposite direction from "hard work" in preaching. Not that I think that we should never think through what we say or write (in God's name) and always expect immediate inspiration. But I do think it suggests strongly that inspiration is far more important than craft. And inspiration is not our work, working harder will not make it any more likely to come (maybe less likely...). In this we must "wait for the Lord." Patient faith is what God responds to, a broken spirit waiting to be healed and filled and used for good. Lack of ability, lack of education, lack of hard work, these are not hindrances but may even be advantages. If these are part of a true poverty of spirit.

"Learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls."