One of the biggest difference in teaching the Bible verses teaching anything else is that the Bible is not simply a collection of historical facts but rather a narrative of salvation that invites us to both participate and be transformed. One of the greatest temptations that is faced by anyone in the teaching ministry is that of simply conveying facts, doctrine, and theology apart from personalizing the truth in one's own journey. The people who hear the messages we bring each week don't simply need to hear truth but to hear of how we have struggled and wrestled with the truth ourselves. To hear of how we have found victory as well as how we have missed the mark in our own journey.
For most of my first decade as a Christian I rarely ever heard any pastors admit their struggles from the platform. So I walked out of the shiny happy church gathering on Sundays thinking that I must be one of the only people struggling on the inside. The truth of a transformed life seemed very illusive in part to the lack of being able to see the process behind the scenes. I was listening weekly to pastors telling me what I should do with my life but rarely ever hearing of how they struggled with following Jesus in their own lives. The reality is that every Christian struggles with faith and sin and working out their salvation but if this struggle is never mentioned it will make the very message we teach seem either theoretical or unattainable except for spiritual giants.
One of the greatest lessons I learned about speaking came from my time at the Kenner Vineyard. Phil Jeansonne, the senior pastor, made a point to share his own struggles within the delivery of each weekly message. I found that this was one if the biggest ways that the messages connected with myself and others because Phil wasn't portraying himself as someone who had it all together and had mastered spirituality but rather as someone who was struggling to work out his faith as much as anyone else in the room. In fact when I first began to speak occasionally at the Kenner Vineyard, Phil would always make sure that I would share from my own personal wrestling with whatever was being covered that week. I thank God for this part of my journey towards learning to teach better as it has truly helped me to connect with folks at various stages of faith.
I think many pastors want to be known as people of unwavering faith who pray all the time and never lack joy or peace or clarity on anything but that kind of thinking has more to do with ego and insecurity than wanting to connect people to God. I am thankful that the New Testament is filled with stories of Christ followers who had all kinds of struggles in their journey towards Jesus and the kingdom. Stories of men of God such as Peter who experienced great heights with God and amazing lows gives me hope that God can continue to form me into a "rock"no matter how much I fumble in my own journey. The same can be said of our preaching and teaching. If we never let people in to our own struggles with anger, lust, ego, jealousy, we will just be placed on a pedestal and are only setting up people for real disappointment when they realize that we are in fact human and still mess up as we follow Christ. But when we share from our own struggles in the midst of teaching we are inviting people to journey after Christ from right where they are. This doesn't negate the message of transformation, if anything it begins to crack the door of the heart open so people can truly experience truth and freedom.
How have you benefited from preachers and teachers who share from their own struggles as they teach?
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