Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Foot Stomping', Hollerin' Preacher

I recently enjoyed a visit with a good pastor I've known and liked for years.  During our time together, he told me that a guest preacher filled his pulpit for him one day.  He was a "foot stompin', hollerin'" type of preacher who had a lot of volume and fire.  After the service was over, one of the members came up to my pastor friend and said this:  "Wow, that was some good preaching, wasn't it?!  We need more of that type of preaching around here!"

First of all, that's just rude to say.  Really, it is.  Imagine if your pastor came to your place of employment, observed someone fill in for you, and then commented to you, "Wow, that was some good work, wasn't it?!  We need more of that type of performance around here!"  My guess is you would be a little offended and maybe even hurt by that.  So is it any wonder that it may be hurtful to a pastor when he hears this type of talk?

As for the foot stompin', hollerin' preaching style, I'll offer a little food for thought:  It's always a good idea to focus more on the content of a sermon than the style in which it is delivered.  Pay more attention to what he says than how he says it.  There are some guys (not all) in the pulpit who yell, get red in the face, pour gallons of sweat, strut around, and point their finger but have weak material that is full of repetition and empty clichés.  Some guys (not all) raise their voice on Sundays to sound authoritative and strong in the attempt to compensate for a lack of preparation and study during the previous days.

I am not elevating one style over another.  Not at all.  If God made you more of a "yeller", then be who you are.  If you're more conversational and low-key, be who you are as well.  Nobody should be fake or put on a show in the pulpit.  But remember to put your main emphasis on solid material that is biblical, relevant, and Christ-honoring.  That matters much more than how loud you get.

I felt bad for my pastor friend.  And I remembered this statement from years ago:  "If you want a better pastor, pray for the one you've got."  Amen to that!  Maybe your pastor doesn't do everything exactly the way you like.  If that's the case, remember that he's a normal human being just like you.  And rather than wound him with subtle, verbal jabs, pray for him and encourage him.  Give him time to grow and catch on.  You're not perfect at your work, so be fair and realistic in what you expect of him with his work.

I've been pretty fortunate.  Nobody has said anything hurtful like that to me in a few years.  No, I'm not dumb enough to think everyone likes my preaching.  I'm sure some folks don't.  But that's ok.  I am just fortunate in that I'm surrounded by folks who are loving, patient, and supportive.  So I have no complaints at all about my situation.  These people are good to me.

But some pastors out there are hurting.  They take a beating on a regular basis.  And in some cases, it is most certainly not deserved.

What church are you a part of?  Wherever it is, please be considerate to your pastor.  Pray for him.  Encourage him.  Point out the things he does well.  Be patient and show grace when he doesn't measure up to your expectations.  You're not perfect, so don't expect him to be perfect either. 

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