Friday, December 20, 2013

Telling Stories (Part 5 of 10)

Our pastor told meaningful, personal stories every Sunday. And they were fine illustrations. But I got tired of them because he was always the hero, the person with exactly the wise word, and he never failed.

Years later, on my fifth Sunday as a pastor, I said, "I was so angry, I lost control" and described my bombastic actions. After the service, Margaret Calloway rushed up to me, embraced me, and said, "Thank God, we have a pastor who gets angry and fails like the rest of us."

Her remark changed my style of preaching and later, my writing. Readers assume we're somewhat successful—or why are we writing? When we tell only of our achievements, we do harm in two ways.

First, we imply we're above failure and therefore better or more mature than they are. Second, we imply that they're inferior because they struggle over issues that don't trouble us.

I fail often—but I keep trying.
That concept tells readers that I'm one of them.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you. A reminder to be more honest in writing prayer letters. I actually "hate" that some people hold missionaries up as "heroes". I know I'm not. I'm an ordinary person called to work in a different location, but I'm definitely no hero. I struggle, I fail, I shout at my kids and immediately wish I hadn't, I get tired, I get mad. I'm human. At the same time I love what God has called me to do.

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  2. You're absolutely right, Cec. Women frequently comment that they enjoy my ministry because I admit my failures. They see that I don't think I'm the hero or the one who has my act together, making me worthy of God's love.

    Instead, they see that I stand in awe of the fact that He loves me in spite of me, and that He loves them in the same way.

    My goal is to please Him at all times, but in my humanness I often fail. Praise God, He loves me anyway.

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  3. Karen and Vonda, both of you said it well. Some people aren't strong enough to admit their weaknesses.
    We need a certain amount of innerstrength and self-esteem to face our imperfections. If we learn to accept ourselves as imperfect but lovable, we're able to tell the stories to help others do the same.
    Keep it up!

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