I was in a group setting the other day with a bunch of pastors and everyone was putting in their two cents. I guess you could imagine how hard it was to get a word in – for anyone! It was funny to watch everyone try to one-up each other with statements, scripture and some straight up nonsense. As a pastor you will soon learn to walk the line of preaching and pastoring. They do not always go together. But if you do not master each of them then you are going to open yourself up to public mockery and you will see your influence decline quickly. What exactly am I talking about?
You may know what it looks like for a pastor or two or forty start to get all revved up on a subject. They begin speaking in that certain voice. You may know the one to which I am referring. The one that sounds like if you dare to speak against what they are saying then you are no less than an idiot. These pastors would prolly deny this, but they all know that tone. We all have it. We are recognized by it. We have the angry voice, the parent voice, the teacher voice, the business voice – you get the point. Some are not so bad or not bad at all; some are.
And this particular instance reminded me of the many times when I opened my big fat mouth and inserted my foot. Not necessarily that what I was saying was wrong, it was just the way that I said it. But in all of my infinite wisdom I would continually cut peeps off mid-sentence because I knew what they were going to say and I would get impatient. I really think that God had to fight against me, wanting to use me but moving through and around my stubbornness; I created tons of work for God that was not needed. I never understood how dumb I was acting until I saw others do the same thing. I would be like, “Man, that guy sounds ridiculous.” and then I would hear the same stuff coming out of his mouth that I would say to peeps in the same situation. I was aware of my surroundings because I listened. And then it dawned on me... I listened. The first step! My point is that there is a time to preach to peeps and a time not to. The time to preach is when you are given some kind of platform – and the key word is “given.” you know, like when your students come to a weekend or midweek program event. They know what they are there for. They know that listening to message is part of the event. The time not to preach... any other time than that.
That's it! The rest of the time I would advise you to work on being pastoral. That is what you need to do. There is no reason to tell everyone how much you know or use your seminary language. They know you went – you have the degree and the debt to prove it. I mean, that is what JC did. He preached when he needed to and the rest of the time he loved on peeps. The next time you are going to get on your soap box... stop and count to ten. Think of what you are going to say and consider the consequences, good or bad. There is a time for exhortation, yes. However, I think we abuse that more often than not. Just a thought, not a sermon.