Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Why Pastors Should Never Say, “I’m No Expert, But … ”

Why Pastors Should Never Say, “I’m No Expert, But … ”

“Now, I’m no Greek scholar,” said the preacher. And it was at that point that I wanted to suggest that he not go any further.

But further he went. He built a significant part of his sermon on what the passage said “in the original Greek.” Nevertheless, when he finished his explanation and subsequent application, he had proven his point—he was no Greek scholar.

In fact, everything he said about the Greek text—everything—was dead wrong. He simply made stuff up to “prove” the point he was trying to make.

Why would he do that? Why would any of us do that? Specifically, why would we endeavor to speak of those things about which we claim to have no knowledge?

Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive? And even if we are not experts on a particular subject, is it not possible to gain enough knowledge that we might actually get our facts right? Let me give some suggestions for speaking about subject matter for which we might be underqualified.

“I’m no expert.”

I often hear preachers qualifying what they are about to say with the disclaimer, “I’m no expert on this.” Of course, sometimes they do not use the disclaimer, but everyone knows they are out of their depth.

For example, before introducing an illustration, a preacher might say, “I’m no legal expert” or “I’m not a doctor,” and then they proceed to discuss a legal or medical matter.

If you do not have a law or medical degree, perhaps you should not wade into those waters. 

However, an alternative would be to gather enough information to speak intelligently and factually on whatever your chosen subject might be. For example, when I was preaching through the Sermon on the Mount and came to the passage about trying to remove the speck from a brother’s eye, I made an appointment with my optometrist. I asked him about removing small foreign objects from people’s eyes. He explained that as an optometrist, he would only remove certain loose objects.

He stayed away from metal and glass and other things that might cut or tear the eye as well as objects that were embedded in the eyeball. Those things he would refer to an ophthalmologist.

Next, I went to see an ophthalmologist. He explained the care with which he would remove a foreign object, and he gave me one of the tools he would use—a diabetic syringe (which has a very fine needle). After asking several questions to make certain I would explain all of this correctly to my congregation, I was able to make some well-informed application.

I explained how delicate the eye is and how not everyone is qualified or has the right tools for removing small objects from an eye. Then I talked about how not everyone is qualified or has the right tools (knowledge, gifts, etc.) to deal with sin in the lives of others.

Part of our qualification is to remove the large objects (obvious sins) from our own eyes. You can debate whether this was effective or not, but my point is that I was able to speak with some knowledge that I did not previously possess.

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mikemiller@churchleaders.com'
I pastor First Baptist Church in Kenner, LA (New Orleans metro area). I am Campus Pastor and Associate Professor of Expository Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Formerly, I was a corporate jet pilot. I have an MDiv with Biblical Languages, DMin in Expository Preaching, Thm, and PhD in Preaching. I'm married with 3 kids.