It is Sunday morning. I have just finished teaching our young married class, have met with my Sunday prayer partner and am now gathering my stuff to go into the worship center. I have:
- My Bible,
- My notes,
- My phone, and
- My mic
Now I am ready. Like you, we greet others in the hall and in the sanctuary. We shake hands, give hugs and greet guests. A few announcements, songs and an offering later we find ourselves at the brink of stepping up to the pulpit. As you take that first step, remember what not to bring to the pulpit.
- Leave your anger. This emotion is real. The struggle is real. We all get angry. Family, finances, personalities, failures are faced by pastors like everyone else. Yet, when we stand before the sheep we must leave the anger. Preaching from anger does not inspire; it confuses. We speak of God's love, but it sounds so mean. Angry preachers tend to point and scream and yell. Angry preaching can spill over into judgment that is not ours to do. Leave your anger at the feet of Jesus.
- Leave your hate. There is a video that has gone viral of Stephen Anderson. While I do not condone gender modification or gay marriages, preaching hate only burns bridges. Let me say this, what the government might say is hate speech is not what I am saying. We are to preach the morality of God, not of this government. We are to preach Christ above the culture. However, we can do this without being hateful. The old axiom still stands: hate the sin, love the sinner. We must leave hate out of our pulpit.
- Leave your politics. I have been pressed numerous times to rail against the current administration. The feeling came from those who believe that our freedoms are being stripped away. While I do understand, and agree, our Christian freedoms are being reduced, the pulpits are not made for our politics, but the personhood of Jesus. While I have used illustrations from politics, it is important to return to Jesus as fast as possible. This has nothing to do with tax status. I don't care about those things. What is important is that we don't confuse the cross with a cross-examination of our political leadership.
- Leave your poll results. Too often, preachers can be pressured to stay away from some topics and stick to others. Knowing our people and leading them to God through preaching is important. Meeting them where they are and guiding them to Jesus is our purpose. However, that does not give us liberty to skip over or by-pass scriptures because they are too difficult. A few years ago, God called me to preach through Timothy. In doing so, Paul addressed some delicate issues. Preaching all of scripture does not always make you popular. Who are you trying to impress anyway? Preach the Word in season and out of season. When it is accepted, or rejected, preach the Word.
Every week, we stand before the people God has given us to lead. Take with you the essentials. By God's Spirit, leave some attitudes and tendencies out. Be honest with the scripture. Get out of the way and let Jesus speak through you. Your ability to do this stands in direct proportion to your level of intimacy with Jesus. Most anyone can speak. You; however, have been called to preach! May God's hand of favor be on you!
Summers is the lead pastor at Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX. He and his wife, Dulcie, have two children: Samuel and Isabella. To read more from Summers, please visit his personal blog, The Intersect, or follow him on Twitter @aaronwsummers.