Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Practice what you preach

Many of us are familiar with the expression that we should "practice what you preach."  This is especially true of those of us who are preachers!

However, just to highlight something you should be aware of, it's also often true that we don't.  There are certain things that are easy to practice: I haven't murdered or stolen anything lately.  I'm even doing pretty good with Romans 13 and not trying to overthrow the established government, though I'm not making a lifetime promise on that one.  We'll reserve that discussion for later.

There are other things, though, that are a little harder.  For example, most of us preachers will stand up on Sunday and tell you to live by faith, not worry about tomorrow, and trust the Lord.

Then we go home, and do the same thing you do: stress out.

We stress about finances and situations.  We worry whether we're raising our kids right.  We worry about being good spouses.

Personally, I come home and worry about whether or not we're going to be able to sell the house we bought in Horn Lake, Mississippi four years ago.  At the time, it was a good idea.  Now, we can't seem to sell it, we can't rent it (not for enough: we could rent it for about 60% of what we're paying for it monthly, but we wouldn't be able to make the payments), and we're out of options to keep making the house payment.  By out of options, I mean we have no more savings, no more fluid investments, and, had it not been for some gracious friends, would have had to choose last month between the payment on that house and groceries.

So, I preached on not worrying, and then I come home and worry. I lose sleep over this, stress out, and have been unnecessarily tense with my family because of it.

And yes, that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite.  Or perhaps it just makes me human, too.

You see, our lives are lived in a tension between what we know we ought to be and what we are.  It's not always easy to be what we aspire to be, nor is it right for us to keep our mouths completely shut about what's true, even if we are having trouble doing it.

So, what can and should we do?

1. Preach, whether as a preacher or not, with humility: say what must be said, but don't act like you've got it all together.  The only preacher I ever knew that had it all together forgot where he put it, anyway.

2.  Listen with understanding: realize that, within churches, we hear lessons from imperfect teachers. Judge the message solely by its fidelity to the Word of God.  Yes, if someone's life is amazingly separated from the truth, they shouldn't teach.  But your teachers aren't perfect.

3.  Pray for one another.  Teachers for your hearers, hearers for your teachers.  Readers, for the blog writers you read and the commenters you encounter.  I pray for all 2 of you who read the blog!

4.  Encourage, but not with fluff---most people's issue are huge to them, even if they're minor for your.  Or minor in the grand scheme of things.  One of my biggest struggles is that I know that there are people whose problems are worse than mine, but I still can't quit worrying about mine.  Being reminded that other people have issues worse only brings me farther down, because it reminds me how selfish and shallow I'm being.  If you can't find words, then just encourage with prayer.

5.  Be careful to recognize that 1 struggle does not a failure make: just because a person has bad days does not mean they are completely useless.  Point them to things they are strong in, and help them succeed in it.


That's just a few thoughts. If that's too much information about what goes on behind the scenes of me, sorry about that.  I wanted to be honest with you. 

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