A friend told me recently, "There is so much freedom in preparation."
That sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? We think of preparation as . . . drudgery. Monotony. Repetition. Whether it's preparing a sermon, report, or song, the work of getting ready is filled with discipline and sacrifice. All of which sounds like the opposite of freedom.
Except for this truth: a lack of preparation makes you a captive of the moment. There are few things more paralyzing than to be giving remarks for which you are unprepared -- you know it and the people you address know it as well. You're trapped.
I suspect the same is true in singing a song, writing a report, or making a sales presentation.
And the reverse is equally apt. Spontaneity happens best in the middle of a message that has been carefully crafted. It's as if when you do your part, the Spirit pours out surprises by doing his part. Many Sundays, some of the "best" things I say are not part of the plan . . . yet delivered while in the middle of sticking to the plan!
So in preaching, singing, selling, writing: there is freedom in preparation.