People today expect a pretty low level of intelligence and a pretty high level of arrogance from the pulpit. They expect to find a low level of sincerity and a low level of vulnerability. If we just flip the highs and lows on each of these, we will be a fairly compelling spokesperson. If we speak intelligently and humbly with sincerity, genuineness, and an openness about our struggles, the walls come crumbling down. People listen.
Yet there are times when we must put on the prophet's hat. We proclaim "Thus saith the Lord," and if there's a steady stream of people going out the exits, that's their problem.
But we've got to pick our spots to become highly authoritative. Some preachers pull "thus-saith-the-Lords" for voting Republican and rooting for the Cubs. I choose to invoke prophetic authority only in areas that are clear-cut and beyond the possibility of being misinterpreted.
When I preached on the Ninth Commandment, "Refuse to lie," for example, I told everybody there are four airtight ...1