We enhance our communication when we use personal illustration in our message.

Sunday morning while shaving, I heard an uplifting sermon on the radio. The speaker knew his text well and had carefully prepared his message. I rated him an excellent communicator. But twice he flawed his own message.

After making his first major point that God is like a loving father who forgives, he said, “Permit me to use a personal illustration.” He then recalled a preteen experience when he had deliberately thwarted his father’s authority and plunged into serious trouble. The story ended with a tearful father hugging an equally tearful son.

Near the end of the sermon, the preacher said, “Allow me to digress again to use a personal illustration.” A poignant experience followed that nicely illustrated his theological principle.

When I say he flawed his message, I mean he flawed, not by using personal illustrations, but because he apologized for using them. He came across as saying, “I really shouldn’t talk about myself, so please overlook that they’re personal.”

His stories not only added spark to his message by deepening the content, but I found myself listening more closely. When he described his own history, even his voice changed. It softened in volume and slowed in cadence. Even more significant is that five days after hearing that sermon, I can’t remember all his theological points, but I’ll long remember his two personal stories of how he lived and learned more about God. He communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ in concrete terms. Why should that require any apology? What’s wrong with using ourselves as illustrations for sermons and teachings? In fact, I believe we enhance our communication when we bring ourselves into our messages.

The ...

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