Pastors Getting Personal While Preaching…

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Going through a book right now with my oldest two daughters: “How To Ruin Your Life By Age Thirty” by Steve Farrar. Very solid & Biblical. At one point, it talks of the importance of sharing your shortcomings with others, having others who hold you accountable to follow the Lord Jesus faithfully & consistently. One of my daughters asked, “Do you do that, Papa?”

I responded: Yes, our heavenly Father has blessed me & does bless me to have men in my life who I walk with and share my personal struggles. But I also said that I typically don’t share those personal struggles in sermons.

Here are some more thoughts on that…

The last thing I want people to walk away with each Sunday morning is thinking that I have it all together. Sometimes we think this subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, about anyone who teaches us on a regular basis. The very act of someone teaching us regularly on important topics can make it seem as if they are at a level we are not—why else would they be teaching us!? 🙂

So please know that I do not have it all together,
and please know that I am just as much a sinner saved by grace as anyone else! 🙂

And yet, I intentionally don’t talk much about myself during sermons, either my trials or my triumphs. I sometimes do, but not all the time. It’s not that I’m trying to project an image of having it all together, or that I’m hiding my real self. Not at all! I’m happy for anyone to get to know me—and my triumphs and trials! Just not usually during sermons…

Sermons are part of a worship service, not a motivational seminar. We must remember that—Sunday morning worship services are not Christianized TED talks, worship services are not times we gather merely to sing (“I hope they play songs that I like!”) or listen to others play music & sing, have a little coffee, & get a few life hacks from an entertaining speaker who will send us on our way with a smile. A local church worship service is not a Christian version of the bar Cheers…

Sunday morning worship services are about worshiping the one LORD of heaven and earth, and I don’t mean music per se. I mean they are times for us to bow our hearts & minds & even bodies to adore and praise and give our attention to and declare our utter dependence on the One true God.

Sunday mornings are times for us to gather together with other sinners saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, times for us to gather together and worship the one LORD—Father, Son & Holy Spirit. We are to gather together primarily to know Him, to focus on Him, to confess sin to Him, to thank Him, to present our requests to Him, to cry out for mercy and encouragement to Him, to hear from Him thru His Holy Spirit and His Word, to delight in His amazing promises & compassion for us.

It is easy, without necessarily intending it to happen, for a preacher to design a sermon in such a way that the people leave the building knowing more about him than about the LORD, where the people leave impressed with the preacher who created the sermon instead of the One Who created the preacher. Or for people to leave the building frustrated by the preacher instead of focused on the Lord Jesus Who is transforming such a jar of clay.

This is also why I don’t intentionally try to make you laugh very often during the sermon. (Some would say that’s because I’m not funny, but I refuse to believe that! 🙂 ) Not that it’s wrong to laugh during a sermon, but again—this isn’t a classroom or a conference but a congregation gathering to worship & adore our Lord & King Jesus! And preachers can unintentionally blur this line of distinction when we turn the sermon into a personal therapy session constantly revealing the details of our personal brokenness, or turn the sermon into a time of getting to know the preacher that should happen over drinking coffee or grilling burgers or playing bags (by the way, I love doing all three of those! 🙂 ), or turning the sermon into a time of recreation & entertainment.

My dear friends, a preacher’s job is to boldly and humbly and accurately and clearly declare what the LORD has said in the Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit so that you walk away marveling at growing closer to the Great Shepherd not the often not-so-great speaker.

(Please keep in mind that I’m not indirectly condemning preachers who do make people laugh and who do often share their personal struggles during sermons; I’m merely trying to explain why I don’t aim to do those things during worship services. I don’t mean this to be held as a hard & fast rule but rather as a reminder of why we gather on Sunday mornings.)

Now enough about me. For the record, though, I definitely don’t have it all together.

But I worship & am saved by the One Who does.

Let’s worship & get to know Him together this Sunday. 🙂