Whenever we step into the pulpit, we are the advocate of the people who listen to us. We are a mediator of the text for them. Our role is to help them understand God's Word.
Unfortunately, we can sometimes adopt an adversarial relationship with our hearers in our preaching. It's not intentional, and it may come from a desire to preach prophetically, but some of us are more comfortable pronouncing woes than the gospel.
I realized this after I left pastoring and went into teaching. Taking my place in the pew on Sundays and listening to sermons, I realized how often I left the meeting feeling as though someone had beaten up on me. When I looked at some of my older sermons, I realized I had done the same thing.
Helmut Thielicke, who preached a wonderful series of sermons based on the Lord's Prayer in Stuttgart during the Allied bombing of World War II, models what it means for a preacher to be an advocate. He tells about meeting one of the women in his congregation near a bombed-out ...1