Sunday, November 13, 2011
Words for the Journey
As one who has been preaching for a long time, I have learned that folks often grab a word or two, maybe a phrase, and occasionally, a thought to take with them out of the sanctuary. Usually, it was not what I thought was a great arrangement of words, but a simple thought that spoke to their circumstances. Such should not really be a surprise when I remember that my own spiritual journey has been influenced and shaped by simple words and thoughts heard along the way.
I remember Clark Pafford, who pastored the church where I did my first stint as a summer youth worker. Numerous times he told me, "The success of your ministry is determined by what happens when you leave." As I moved from one ministry place to another, I always found myself being reminded of his insight. He was also the man who told me, "Preach to empty pews before preaching to filled ones," a practice observed over a lifetime of preaching. And when Bishop Cannon came to Talbotton to preach, he did so for about forty-five minutes, but all I took away was the phrase, "Life is fragile." I have breathed and spoken those words more times than I can count. Finally, I remember Dr. Brokhoff, my preaching professor at Candler, who kept saying over and over, "Preach the text." When I failed in preaching by talking too much about what I thought, it was not because I had not been told what to do!
All of us carry simple thoughts and phrases with us that have had shaping power on our journey of faith. I wonder what you have heard. I wonder how your life has been shaped and directed. If you have a minute, click on comment, and share one of your "words for the journey."