Five Temptations of the Pulpit

Preaching is the most visible aspect of ministry—and the most easily misused.

It was years ago, early in my preaching ministry. I made a broad gesture to the right, and every eye swung that direction. Wow! I thought to myself. I can do that to people! That marked the beginning of my acquaintance with the unique temptations of preaching.

Performing While You Preach

The first and greatest temptation is the one I experienced that day—to be a performer in the pulpit. In one sense, that's exactly what you must do when you preach—perform. Anyone who dares get up in front of a group of people and take twenty-five minutes of their time to deliver a monologue must be something of a ham. If you loathe that kind of exercise, chances are you will not be effective as a preacher.

But there's the catch. To preach well, you must constantly open yourself up to the deadliest temptation of the preacher: to put on a performance that will draw the applause and appreciation of the audience. There is no problem in all this if the audience, for you, is God. But unfortunately, ...

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From Issue:Fall 1982: Temptation
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