Humble Pie

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?

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20 thoughts on “Humble Pie

  1. This must be a heart-thing, because I didn’t hear what you say you meant. I heard you compare him to two exceptional people: Babe Ruth as an exceptional baseball player, and Tim Tebow as an exceptional Christian and leader. I certainly didn’t hear that as a slur to Tim Tebow.

  2. I know Tim as well as anybody without a personal connection. I do not think Tim would take this as a slur, just the truth that his technique is not where he would like. Please do not sweat this. Plenty worse has been said with malice toward Tim.

  3. Granted, this is not a case of larceny or lewd language, but it troubled my soul. In our economy this is ‘no big deal’ and honestly, I am not mortified with guilt over it. But this flippant remark misses the mark Jesus set before us. So while I am not wracked with remorse, I do regret it. Nothing more than this, but nothing less either. I share this because it grants me the opportunity to highlight an area in our lives that is too often ignored. In one sense this is about me, but I am hoping that the lesson is for us.

  4. Eugene thank you for setting the example for us as the body if Christ. All too often we make excuses for our speech to make us look good. Thank you for being an example to us and taking responsibility for your words. That is what a true leader does. Thank you for your wisdom and most of all your humility.

  5. Eugene, I needed this today…..thank you for your conscience…..I have been struggling with my own regrets for my words for the past few months. (And I’m one that didn’t even notice yours…..a lot of sports references go over my head. You’ll have to start referencing “Dancing with the Stars”)

  6. Eugene, no matter what was said in the service, I sincerely appreciate your comments and willingness to step up and own up. We all know that you meant no malice, but the commitment to keeping your way clear is a blessing. thank you.

  7. Just kidding man. That was a great sermon Eugene- the words from the bible about rich people not entering the kingdom of heaven are challenging and convicting.

  8. I too, agonize in retrospect, over everything I say, I am such an open book, sharing things about myself that I wish I hadn’t. For me, learning to be silent should be something I have mastered by now at my age! The prayer constantly on my lips is “Lord, may I not be an embarrassment to my family, and most especially, You!”. I believe He knows the intent of our hearts, and blesses our desire not to offend. Your messages have helped me to grow in my relationship with the Lord. And I, like Cynthia, miss some sport references. Dancing with the Stars and Survivor are more my speed!!!
    You are much appreciated in our house!

  9. We know that God’s word(s) live forever, but I am amazed at how long our words live. I can still remember hurtful things that I said, or were said to me 58 years ago. I always have to remind myself that it is not just what I say but what others hear. Most of us heard little or nothing wrong with what Eugene said. However, Eugene’s sensitivity to what others might have heard and might have been offended by, especially when compared to God’s standard is an example for all of us.

  10. Having been in the first service, my thoughts were in line with Susan Alexander’s. Eugene, since your words bothered you, and you were concerned how they might have been received, I hope the feedback you were given brought you comfort and reassurance. We all know we aren’t perfect, and yes, we often make mistakes or decisions we regret, but thankfully, we have the gift of forgiveness, and the Bible tells us the blood of Christ continually cleanses us from all unrighteousness. So often you are the giver in communications with the body, so I applaud your courage in sharing your own feelings and struggles, so that you might be the receiver of others’ support and encouragement when you need it.

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