Once a sermon is delivered I agonize through the postmortem, wishing I had said some things differently, or said something different. This is the lot of preachers, entrusted with proclaiming God’s Word; we are seldom satisfied with our efforts. But this week, my usual performance criticisms were accompanied with spiritual conviction. I said something from the stage that I almost immediately regretted.
In trying to establish C.T. Studd’s fame with an audience that was unfamiliar with him, I used Tim Tebow as a comparison. This is what I said; “he’s like Tebow, except he’s got technique”. Now everyone knows that Tebow has been skewered for his supposed technical deficiencies, but I wasn’t making a dispassionate assessment of his skills, I was taking a cheap shot. It was a disparaging reference that was meant to be funny.
Had Tebow been in the audience, or if he were a friend, the comment would be a good-natured jab between buddies. But he wasn’t there and he isn’t a buddy, so instead of being a playful taunt, it was an unnecessary slur. He is undeserving of my caustic wit and I am sorry I said what I did.
What’s more, I failed to model to our body the ideal God has set for us. Our words are meant to nourish (Pr. 16:24), not pierce (Ps. 64:2) one another. As a community of believers, our words should be life-giving and I need to diligently model that for you. Cutting speech shouldn’t come from your mouth, and it shouldn’t be spoken from the stage.
Part of me wants to dismiss all this as an over-reaction on my part, and it may be. But I worry that if I turn a deaf ear to my conscience, I will hear its complaints less and less. I believe that my words were wrong, and I repent. No doubt, I will have future failures as I continue my preaching ministry. I can, and do, pray they will be few. And while I won’t write a post on every occasion, I felt that this case provided a teachable moment for us as a people.
We must become more careful with our tongues. What we say matters—our words are the projection of our hearts and are incredibly powerful. For good or ill, our speech makes a difference. By God’s grace, I will bridle this tongue of mine and speak what is good; will you join me in this?