This morning while sitting in a Chick-Fil-A (yes, my home office away from home) in Houston working on answering some emails (I seem to be always behind so please forgive me if you are waiting on a response from me!), a couple came in and sat at the table next to me. The visit to Houston was to spend time with my friend and mentor, brother George Bailey. We spent a good part of the day together yesterday, and as always it was a delightful, faith-building experience. We talked about the church, about preaching, about family, and brother Bailey shared with me something that he had recently found while studying the Greek text. What a great encouragement that a man who is 89 years young is still studying and growing in the Word!!
We talked about Heaven and we discussed his funeral. He has asked me to preach his funeral and it will be a wonderful celebration of a life that has been lived to the fullest. Brother Bailey’s mind is still extremely sharp, however his physical health is declining rapidly. When it was time for me to leave, he prayed (which he always does) a prayer that was befitting of a man who is close to the Lord. He hugged my neck (a little longer than usual) and said, “Jeff if I don’t see you again on this side, I will look forward to seeing you in Heaven.” My eyes were filled with tears knowing that he will not be with us much longer and that when he is gone, we will have lost one of God’s great men.
The rest of the day it was my privilege to spend some time with a young preacher who is on the other end of the life spectrum. This young man is an outstanding preacher of the Gospel. He is young, newly married, and has only been preaching full time for a short time. He has the same passion for preaching, the same love for preaching the Word, and the same kind of love for the church that brother Bailey has exemplified in his life. He can be his generation’s George Bailey.
Well, none of that was really my purpose for this article, but those are the reasons for my being in Houston. Back to the story. This couple sat down across from me and for the next forty-five minutes the lady talked incessantly. She only took a breath to take a bite of her meal. She talked loud, and she talked mostly about herself. I genuinely felt sorry for the man who was with her.
It appeared that he was trying his best to be patient and to listen, but I could tell he was becoming frustrated. He said about two sentences in the forty-five minutes. My goal was to tune her out so that my work could be completed, but she was really loud and really arrogant.
While listening and watching it hit me hard, is that how people perceive some preachers? Please allow me to be so bold to take a moment to encourage my preaching brothers who read this post to make sure that we do everything possible not to portray that image.
Among all the people in the world who should not be loud and arrogant would be preachers. Those of us who preach the message of redemption should have a clear understanding of the fact that everything that we are as well as everything that we do is made possible because of the Grace of our Lord. We often tell those who hear us preach when we are talking about worship or living for the Lord that, "it is not about us." Then sometimes we turn around and act like it is all about us!
Yet some preachers seem so consumed with themselves that they can’t be concerned about others. If ever there were a preacher who had a right to be arrogant, it would be George Bailey. Yet he is a man who is filled with humility and graciousness. He is always concerned about others. He is always asking about others. He is hesitant to talk about himself.
In a world filled with loud, arrogant people those of us who preach Jesus should do our best to model the humility of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8).
Dear Father, we thank you for placing in our lives wonderful servants who model the humility of our Savior. Help us to stop being loud and arrogant. Help us to quit promoting ourselves and to quit talking about ourselves. Rather help us to talk about Jesus. Dear God, may those of us who preach Jesus work overtime to model everything about Him. In the Name of our Savior we pray, Amen.