I watched it happen not long ago…
As I sat listening to a minister speak to a large congregation, I saw it so clearly. His insecurities were affecting his message. Apparently, for reasons only he and perhaps a few close friends might know, this speaker was intimidated by his audience. And it showed…really showed.
Now first, let me say a few things about the speaker and about his message content. He’s a really good guy. He’s proven himself over an amazing career of real ministry impact. He’s been where none of his college-aged audience that day had ever been. But, in truth, he’s been where many of them want to go. They came with enthusiasm for the insight and experience he might share, but he didn’t seem to see that so clearly.
He also came with a good message. His topic spoke to the exact spot where many in that young audience truly stand in life. This was a match literally made in Heaven, except that the speaker’s insecurities were winning the day.
What did that look like?
The actual content of the message wasn’t greatly affected, but the tone of his delivery and the sharpness of every point he sought to make almost screamed, “You young people don’t get this! You don’t want to hear this!” Such resistant feelings come from feeling resisted—something none of his audience were really doing. In truth, it seemed his real feelings were, you don’t want to hear this from middle-aged me! Throughout the message, he repeatedly looked at his friends on the platform for encouragement as he continued to deliver good words in harsh tones.
As I sat listening, I found myself wanting to put my arm around him and just softly tell him that they’re not against you. They want to hear what you have to say. They want to like you. But somehow he saw them differently.
The moment left me wondering just how much of our railings against culture and our pulpit rants against those who aren’t actually in the room are generated by insecurity. I once heard a frustrated business leader scream at his team in a similar fashion and I knew his insecurities were showing. Whenever our preaching is motivated by an insistence that our audience doesn’t get I or just doesn’t want to get it, we’re likely operating out of insecurity.
That’s just one of the ways we begin to sabotage our own ministry efforts. When we step into the pulpit and see enemies before us, well, my guess is that we’re not headed for a healthy morning. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Jesus directed us to leave the worship moment and go be reconciled to our brother before returning for our acts of worship.
If we don’t deal effectively with our insecurities, they will rise up and help us harm our own ministry work. Once the pulpit becomes a place to pursue affirmation or to deliver sharp blows to those we believe oppose us, that sacred desk loses its true purpose.
Next week, we’ll continue this discussion by offering a few tips and truths to help us pastors more effectively manage the impact of our insecurities.
- Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 203
- Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 204