Thursday, June 3, 2010

Preaching with your Authentic Voice

Communicators can be impatient to find a “style” – to embellish the simple words so that listeners will recognize us as someone special. We buy sermons (in my case) and resources, as if “style” were something we could buy at a conference and drape onto our sermons. There is no style store; style is organic to the person doing the preaching, as much a part of him as his hair, or, if he is bald, his lack of it.

Trying to add style is like adding a toupee. At first glance, the formerly bald man looks young and handsome, but at second glance, he does not look quite right. The problem is not that he does not look well groomed because he does, but we can only admire the wigmaker’s skill. The point is that he does not look like himself. Therefore, a fundamental principle is: Be yourself. Confidence in our unique voice is a matter of trust in God.

In View from the Pew, Lora-Ellen McKinney says, “Confidence attracts. Humility endears. Arrogance distances. Performance, rather than preaching, insults. Be humble. Make it easy for God to work in and through you.” She warns preachers not to be showmen. We should speak God’s Word while allowing our personal journeys with God to shine through and illustrate our messages.

We need to start by asking ourselves who we really are. Then we must decide to take that person, that real person, into every ministry setting. Ministry does not need clones, or people wearing masks, pretending to be all things to all people. What is the most transparent version of ourselves that we can bring into the pulpit? Authenticity is the practice of integrity with who God has created us to be. Too many of us refuse to be ourselves and, instead, imitate better-known preachers or authors. Why fear being yourself? Deliver God’s message your way.

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