A few years ago I read a John Ortberg book called The Me I Want To Be. I was thinking recently that there’s also a Preacher I Want To Be and the picture isn’t as pretty as I’d like:
- The funny guy . . . I want people to laugh at my jokes and think I’m funny. They’ll like me more, and might want to listen to what I say.
- The ‘cool’ guy . . . Not super-hipster cool; I know I’m not that. But I don’t want people thinking I’m ‘sad’ or out of touch. I at least want them to think I’m not a geek.
- The smart guy . . . Whether through brilliant theological insight, philosophical and apologetic engagment, high-brow quotes, or even a splash of Hebrew, I want people to think I’m smart.
- The passionate guy . . . I want people to think that I’m super-spiritual and deeply connected to God on a moment-by-moment basis, and I can demonstrate it by my intense passion in preaching.
- The eloquent guy . . . I work hard to think up those slick turns of phrase. I want you to notice them and consider my genius.
- The ‘makes me cry’ guy . . . I want to make you cry because I can then think that God has really used me today.
- The ‘lauded and applauded’ guy . . . I want to speak to big crowds at conferences and for people to tell all their friends how brilliant I was. I love nothing more than meeting a stranger who tells me how brilliant I was at that conference three years ago.
- The faithful guy . . . And deep down, buried amidst the mess of my sin, I want to be faithful, prayerful, and I want Jesus to be glorified more than me. Lord I believe, help my unbelief.
This stuff is so hard because it’s not all completely evil. Humour is good because it establishes a connection. I don’t want to distract people (positively or negatively) by what I wear. I do want the message to be credible intellectually. I do want people to know I really believe this stuff and think it matters enormously. I do want the truth to stir emotion. And I do want to see God at work in massive ways. These desires aren’t necessarily bad. It’s just that they tend to get mixed into my other sinful desires which tells me I need to keep working at this stuff, pray lots, and have accountability with others who can be honest with me. I don’t think it’s just me that wrestles with this stuff. I do think I need to preach to myself more than I preach to others.