Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preaching in the Crosshairs...

I am a preacher.

At least I try to be.

That puts me in the crosshairs of anyone who may think differently than myself. It comes with the job. And, if I'm being honest, sometimes it sucks.

I hate the awkward emails that will consume an entire morning (or days) of my thoughts. I hate the insecurities that rise up within me. I hate drafting and redrafting my "formal" response. And I hate the anticipation of that next random encounter with the individual who fired off the email.

"Hate" is such a strong word....but I use it deliberately.

I've been criticized for many things over my ministry career. Wearing the wrong clothes. Praying incorrectly. Speaking too long. Missing a passage of scripture. Not having enough depth. Not being encouraging enough. Playing guitar poorly. Picking bad songs. Wearing sandals. The list goes on.

So in an attempt to enlighten you, here are a few things I'd like you to know about me before you hear me speak next:

You will not like everything I say.
I don't do this so that I can be liked. Yes, I'd love to be known as a great preacher. But hopefully that is due to my ability to communicate the truth clearly, not because everything I said made you feel good.

I will miss things.
I only have an allotted time to speak within. (One which I already regularly go over.) Please know that this is not my attempt to bring you a step further to enlightenment. You should leave with more questions and a desire to dig a little deeper on your own.

You will be able to live this out.
This needs to engage your life...not just your brain. I'd rather you and I were both able to live this stuff out than just tuck it away and pat ourselves on the back for just knowing more information.

I am intentional in how I prepare & present.
I study. I read. I pray. I angst. I doubt. I ask questions. I write. And rewrite. And then I repeat. This does not happen in 30 minutes on Saturday night. You should also know that I prepare in such a way that my students can understand what I'm saying. My favorite compliment (if there is such a thing) is when I find out my middle schoolers got it.

4 comments:

Jon Coutts said...

I feel you man. That's a crazy list of things you've been criticized for, and no one knows the depths of self-doubt and near-despair that can beset a preacher before and after they preach (well, if they care about trying to speak the Word of God anyway).

But I'm confused: Why do you say on one hand: "You should leave with more questions and a desire to dig a little deeper on your own," but on the other hand that you "hate the awkward emails that will consume an entire morning (or days) of my thoughts. I hate the insecurities that rise up within me. I hate drafting and redrafting my "formal" response. And I hate the anticipation of that next random encounter with the individual who fired off the email."

This is a community wrestling with the Word of God and doing it to your face (or at least your facebook)! They ought to be more charitable toward you, and less reactive and so on, but surely this is the call of a preacher, to guide a community in hearing the Word of God together. This brings them into contention, and well it should, but we have to be prepared to service that with the Prince of Peace (rather than the false peace of consensus) as our Guide.

Don't get me wrong, though, I hear ya.

knotter said...

I'm ok with questions. (At least I try to be.)

My disdain for the awkward email actually comes about because there is no real question involved. There is, from my limited perspective, no desire to dig deeper or to understand. There is no conversation. There is no further engagement.

I could probably clarify my own email drafting process...but it has more to do with how long it takes me to draft some sort of coherent response when someone actually wasn't even looking for one.

I'm not a big fan of how much I internalize everything.

And lest I sound too pessimistic...this does not happen regularly. I've received some great feedback in regards to some of the content of recent messages.

But, as is always the case, which comments do you think hit the closest to home?

BTW, I like your wording: Prince of Peace vs peace of consensus.

Jon Coutts said...

oh yes, those emails are definitely annoying. how you turn it into a tactful conversation when there has been no interest expressed in having any such thing. sorry man.

knotter said...

I think I've heard of a church somewhere that has a Q&A sort of time after the message that gives people a chance to interact together.

But I can't imagine that would always go well either. :)