Several months back I did something during a sermon that afterward unsettled me. In explaining one point, I found myself for some thirty seconds deliberately saying what one man in the congregation wanted to hear. These unplanned comments concerned a doctrine he and I had discussed several times and largely disagreed over. While I did not say anything contrary to my beliefs, unquestionably my primary motivation for saying what I did was to gain his approval by demonstrating our common ground.
Those thirty seconds painfully reminded me how easy it is when preaching to slip into motives unworthy of my calling. Indeed, at some time or another during my ministry, each of the following motivations has passed through my mind:
- The desire to entertain or be humorous for the sake of popularity.
- The desire to impress others, to be liked for what I say, to attract a crowd to my credit.
- The desire to be an eminent preacher or lay the stepping stones for moving to a larger church.