Saturday, April 30, 2005

Courage to preach what we don't practice

David Wayne of Jollyblogger urges preachers not to fall into the trap of thinking we have to practice everything we preach:

I say this because I am preaching much these days on the grace of God. I'm preaching things which I know in my head are true and which are the fruit of my study. But I know in my heart that I have not yet grasped the full greatness of grace in my own life. I have tasted it, but I don't think I have guzzled it - and I want to guzzle it.

That's a great metaphor--tasting but not guzzling. So much of the Christian walk is moving beyond baby steps to a full-blown stride. Many preachers, however, feel the urge to be not only proclaimers but experts. It's easy to feel hypocritical, David notes, for preaching about an area in which we ourselves still struggle:

I am sympathetic to that and I think the solution to the hypocrisy problem is simple - we can simply admit to our hearers that we haven't attained to what we are preaching. This is why I often remind my hearers that I am so adamant on preaching about grace because I need it more than they do.

When we preach we try to hold out to our hearers a goal to which they ought to strive to attain. There is nothing wrong with the preacher holding out a similar goal to which he himself has not attained.

Certainly preachers are expected to have some degree of maturity and experience in not only talking the talk but walking the walk. But if we believe we have to master the material before preaching on it, then we'll either be silent or deluded. One key for having the honesty to admit our own weakness from the pulpit is this: to remember that in the ways that matter most, preachers are part of--not apart from--the congregation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thoughts. I agree that admitting that you don't have it all together in the topic is wise. I think it becomes hypocricy when you tell your congregation to stop lying, and no Christian continues to lie (which is true), but you lie all the time. You can not command others to do as you do not do.

Anyway, keep up the good writing.

5:36 PM, April 30, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Anon, for stopping by.

6:20 PM, April 30, 2005  

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