Yesterday I attended, via Zoom, a hybrid conference of Baptists doing theology. There were all sorts of papers and some were of especial interest, relating to Church Meetings and to Preaching. It was the latter that especially resonated, with its focus on dishonesty in preaching. Three broad categories of dishonesty were explored, using metaphors...
- Dishonesty as banality: The herd and the preacher as drug-dealer
- Dishonesty as manipulation: The gang and the preacher as propagandist
- Dishonesty as disowning: The innocent and the preacher as beautician
Whether or not anyone likes the analogies (chosen deliberately to be provactive by the speaker) or the categories (derived from literature) the temptation to dishonesty among/by preachers is very real. In my experience (now more than quarter of a century) it's there in congregations too - honesty can be too challenging (this was noted by the speaker).
So, what are my dishonesties?
When I was a student doing Biblical studies, my tutor pointed out to me that I tended to do all the work then step back from the conclusion... I am certainly guilty of that as a preacher, partly because my own fragile ego, people-pleasing tendencies and need to be liked mean that I have all too often backed away from the challenge, having been accused (a long time ago in another place) of telling people off. So yes, banality and innocence can be my dishonesties.
It's good to pause and reflect on this to be reminded that it's easy to fall into these traps not because we are lazy or willfully dishonest, but because we are finite and flawed.
As preachers - and as those preached to - I wonder what it is that we need to reflect upon if we are to grow and flourish?