3. People Aren’t Starved for Information; They’re Starved for Meaning
I realize the first two points come across as a bit bleak, but they lead somewhere great.
The Internet provides a sea of information, but a sea in which far too many people are drifting nowhere.
The current shortage in our culture isn’t a shortage of information; it’s a shortage of meaning.
And that’s where no one should do better than preachers of the Gospel.
The challenge is to wade deep into the text and deep into the culture AND come out with meaning that resonates.
In an age that has no scarcity of information but a deep scarcity of meaning, the church is uniquely positioned to answer ‘why’ in a world that is fascinated with ‘what’ and ‘how.’
The church can answer why in world that’s starved for meaning. And the church can answer ‘who’ in a world that’s starving for relationship.
4. Your Personal Integrity Makes or Breaks Everything
No one needs to make a list of names of highly known, loved and formerly respected preachers and church leaders that are no longer in ministry today because they lacked personal integrity. Sadly, far too many names are emblazoned on our minds.
Our culture also now prizes authenticity as a chief cultural value…but only in a strange kind of way. The moral compass of our culture points in a hundred different directions on any given day, and often tolerates blatant contradictions in some leaders while zeroing in on the tiniest little defect in others.
Here’s what it universally means for preachers though: As important as your talk is (see above), your walk is far more important than your talk.
In fact, an inconsistent walk will invalidate your talk, no matter how good your talk is.
In many ways, that should be no surprise and a relief to most preachers.
We have always been held to a high standard of accountability, as we should be.
And when you mess up, admit it. I don’t just mean on the big things, I mean on the little things.
Own your junk. Get help. Apologize as often as you need to. Push others into the spotlight. Admit your weaknesses.
If you don’t, you’ll eventually be humiliated when others spot the truth you’re unwilling to admit.
Humiliation, after all, is involuntary humility. That’s what a public fall is: involuntary humility.
Far better to humble yourself than to have others do it for you.
See a gap between your private walk and your public talk? Decelerate your talk and accelerate your walk.
If you want to dig deeper on the whole issue of the private walk of a leader, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences is available for pre-order now.
5. Imitation Will Kill You
Because integrity and authenticity are so critical in our current culture (and yes, the culture is hypocritical on that…but we never should be), imitating other leaders is a terrible strategy.
Imitating leaders you admire can seem like a wonderful strategy to accelerate your development as a preacher.
But there are two problems. First, anyone who knows you knows that’s not really you.
I watched a young preacher recently trying to preach with just a crazy amount of passion and all I could think the whole time is “Why is this guy trying to imitate Rich Wilkerson?”
It came off as inauthentic, fake and honestly, surreal.
I love Rich. Rich is an amazing preacher with a great church, and having been on a trip with him a few years ago, I can assure you he’s got a unique, God-given personality. But God gave that to Rich, not to the guy who’s trying to imitate him.
Preachers, here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Do you want to be a cover band for the rest of your life, or do you want to be a real artist?
Go ahead and play the bar circuit for 40 people a night if you want to be a cover band, but if you want to develop the gift God has given you, be yourself. At least you’ll die with your dignity.
I have tons of things I wish were better and different about my communication style, but at least I’m me.
The best part of being true to who God made you to be? You can roll out of bed for the rest of your life and do it. Work hard. Get better. But be you.
As Craig Groeschel says, people would rather follow a leader who’s always real than a leader who’s always right.