The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Guidance for Preachers: Understanding the Call

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

What does it mean to speak for God? This is a concept that is very poorly understood in the Church today. By the time we’re done worrying about being relevant, speaking the truth in love, and walking our talk, we are totally out of touch with the Holy Spirit. If you’re going to honor God as His spokesperson, you need to flush all of this useless advice the Church puts out about how to please people and get your focus back on what really matters: pleasing God.

Here’s a critical rule to keep in mind: whoever you are trying to please will become the author of your message. This means that if you focus on the goal of trying to please your human audience, you’re going to end up pumping out a bunch of carnal rot. The Church is already overloaded with preachers who are raining down endless deceptions and foolishness onto the heads of the flock. We really don’t need one more irreverent idiot disillusioning the children of God. If you’re not going to do this right, then do us all a favor and keep your mouth shut.

Speaking for God is not a game. It is not a career that you pick out for yourself. It is not something you sign up for because you can’t think of anything useful to do with your life or because you’re trying to find a context for your good marketing skills. The only time you are authorized to speak for God is when He commands you to do so. If you’re not sure whether He is commanding you or not, then He’s not. Because God is so very sensitive about shepherds putting out garbage in His Name, He does not leave any room for doubt when He calls someone to speak for Him. If you have been legitimately called to preach for God, you will know it in your soul. You will feel compelled to preach. You will feel intensely miserable if you don’t. The true call to preach is an extremely clear and personal command which is given by God to you. People do not call you to preach. Seminary ordinations are utterly meaningless. When you pay people a bunch of money to give you a title and a certificate, then you open your yap and start saying stuff God never authorized you to say, you’re going to end up in big trouble with Him.

There’s no room for winging it in this calling. When you speak for God, you are functioning like an amplifier for the Holy Spirit. He speaks, you repeat. There’s no room for your lame embellishments. Getting out the red pen and trying to edit God’s messages for Him is beyond obnoxious. God doesn’t make mistakes. When He sounds rude and crude, He’s being that way on purpose. God’s wrath is a real thing, and when He’s ticked, He conveys His irritation in words that carnal humans will identify with. When you soften God’s harsh messages because you don’t want anyone’s feelings to be hurt, you’re being a defiant rebel. Where do you get off giving God Almighty a lecture on manners and diplomacy? Read your Bible. Take a good look at how snarky Jesus and Yahweh got with the people who were ticking Them off.

You’re a human, and that means that you don’t know the first thing about what another soul needs. This is another reason that your efforts to fix God’s messages for Him will always end up making a mess. So often when you think it’s time to ream someone out, God is going to break out some soft and gracious tone. Other times you’ll be in the mood to cast brotherly love and God will want to bite someone’s head off. Realize that you have no idea what’s really going on between another soul and God. Your instincts are going to be wrong most of the time, so you can’t rely on them. Speaking for God has nothing to do with saying what you think someone needs to hear. It’s about repeating what God is commanding you to say using His choice of words, tone, and emphasis. When He’s mad, you need to be mad. When He’s pleased, you need to be pleased. Maybe you’re feeling tired Sunday morning and God’s downloaded some passionate tirade into your brain. When you start preaching, you need to kick into gear and convey God’s message with the passion and mood that He wants it to have. We don’t tone God down, we don’t try to clean up His language, and we don’t leave any sections out. God is very good at slipping in lines that are going to make you squirm uncomfortably. He’s very good at going off on tangents that you’d rather skip. Don’t even think about editing God.

Now because you’re a human, you don’t have a full grasp of truth. You’ve got blind spots, insecurities, and issues. Some of your issues are going to make you feel unqualified to address certain topics from the pulpit. Here is where you need to remember what it means to speak for God: you are repeating Him, you’re not writing original material. Maybe you’ve got a problem with porn. Maybe your sex life is not happening because you and your wife have a bunch of unresolved beefs. Maybe you’ve got a head crammed with disgusting images and you’re even starting to get sucked into child porn. Should a guy like you be preaching sermons on sexual purity? Should a guy like you be handing out marital advice in your office? These are the wrong questions. Your personal struggles and your current level of maturity have nothing to do with speaking for God. This calling is about repeating what the Holy Spirit is saying.   Is God telling you to preach on sexual purity? If He is, you need to get in gear. Is God giving you something to say to the distressed couple sitting in your office? If He is, then you’d better do what He is ordering you to do.

When you speak for God, you are not attempting to tell people where you are at in your personal walk with Him. The pulpit is not a confessional so don’t treat it like one. It’s no one’s business what’s going on between your soul and God. You shouldn’t be sharing biographical details unless God specifically tells you to. It’s His message, not yours.

The fear of sounding like a hypocrite has stifled many sincere preachers, and even driven some of them to go hide out in holes once they hit certain theological crises in their own lives. To assume that you should be silent unless you can personally resonate with what God is saying is the wrong assumption to make. When God commands you to speak, you speak. This is a very straightforward calling. It only gets complicated when we take our eyes off of God and start focusing on a bunch of irrelevant details.

When God calls you to speak for Him, He isn’t calling you to be perfect. He knows that you aren’t going to personally resonate with everything He says. Because you’re the first one to receive the message, you’re often the first one to be wowed by it and learn from its contents. Don’t let the fact that God is speaking over your head stop you from doing what He has called you to do. Simply repeating the message is not a difficult concept. It is your emotions that make this calling difficult—all of that fretting over how others will respond and how many egos you’ll offend. This is why it is so important to focus on God at the time you are speaking. When you focus on pleasing Him with how accurately you are relaying His message, you will do a good job. When you focus on pleasing people, the message will become corrupted because you’ll start intentionally making changes. We do not edit God.

FURTHER READING:
Teaching the Flock: Three Ways We Outrage God
Shepherding the Flock When Your Own Faith is in Crisis
Pastors & the End Times: Guiding a Flock in Crisis

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