Tim Keller on Preaching to Himself


Tim Keller, at about 7 minutes in to the 2nd Q&A session with Bryan Chapell (from these discussions), is basically asked, How do you ["preach the gospel to yourself every day"]? I worked hard to do justice to how Keller stated these things. Hope it's helpful.

I try to do petition in the morning. I try to do repentance in the evening. So I try to pray in the morning and in the evening. In the evening I look back on what I did wrong and repent. 

But in the middle of the day I try to catch myself and I look for four kinds of emotions. 

I always pray in the morning, "Lord make me happy enough in the grace of Jesus to avoid being proud, cold, scared, and hooked."

  • Now, by proud I mean what you think, too self-congratulatory. And maybe disdainful of people who I don't think have it together.
  • Cold means I'm just too absorbed in my concerns to really be compassionate and gracious and warm and joyful to the people around me. 
  • Scared means I'm just obviously too anxious and worried.
  • Hooked means...when you're overworked, it means for me...eating. Eating things I shouldn't eat just because it's a way of keeping my energy up, and also because it's a way of rewarding myself. Or looking at women more than once.

So: proud, cold, scared, hooked.

Now, in the middle of the day I get it out and say, "Have I been proud, scared, cold, or hooked in the last 3-4 hours. And the answer usually is "Yeah." And then I say, "How do I bring the Gospel to bear on that? How does the grace of God deal with it?" And you try to catch yourself in those feelings. So basically finding problem feelings and inordinate desires, catch them when they're happening, try to deal with them with the Gospel right there.

I call that "Quick Strike" on my idols around noon, if I can remember it. And repentance at night and petition in the morning. So I try to get into God's presence three times a day.


I know the times in which I've been most prone to temptation is when I've basically drop-kicked the whole practice, the discipline of it, for weeks on end because I've just been so busy and running ragged and that's when I can really sense myself being vulnerable.