Walk the Talk

People often come and tell me how hard it is being a preacher.  I get that a lot, I think, because of the fact that public speaking ranks number one on the phobia list. Or maybe because I have to preach every Sunday and that means a lot of research, study,  and reflection I must do to come up with an inspirational sermon. Let me tell you, I don’t have problem with public speaking since I found joy in doing theater in my high school year. This early training has made me comfortable speaking in front of a lot of people. The amount of time of research, study, and reflection doesn’t make preaching hard either.  I never say it is easy. Yes, I often hit ‘the brick wall’ in the middle of my sermon preparation and of course, preparing a sermon is time consuming and sometimes I don’t get the luxury of quiet time for myself because of the many obligations I have. Still, that doesn’t get to be the number one reason why preaching is hard.

The most difficult thing in preaching, for me, is to put into practice what I preach. A good friend of mine said: “Words are cheap.” Amen to that! I know that for sure. I know how to say nice words to my congregants who are sick or in need of hope. I can prepare the most inspiring and uplifting sermon to give hope to the hopeless. I can say to my church: Do not fear for the Lord is with you! But when it comes to my own personal hardship, it is hard to swallow my own words. I also have heard preachers being caught in sexual scandals or power struggles. Great preachers who grew the church from just a living room size into a mega church fall because they failed to do what they preached. They said: Do not commit adultery! but they got involved in an extramarital affair. They said worship God not Mamon! but their hearts pursue riches.

And I wondered, what makes me special that I should be immune from the “fall?” This is a problem of so many great preachers, why shouldn’t it be my problem, too? Even Apostle Paul admits the difficulty of maintaining the integrity of what we know and say with the things we do. ” I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) Eugene Peterson, a pastor and a poet, in his book “Working the Angles” writes “I don’t know of any other profession in which it is quite as easy to fake it as in ours (being pastor/preacher)” He continues (quoting Anne Taylor’s novel Morgan’s Passing): “You can get by with it in all the honored professions. You can impersonate doctors, lawyers, pastors, and counselors. You know that you wouldn’t even pretend to be a plumber, or impersonate a butcher–people would find you out in twenty seconds!” I can’t agree more to it.

My biggest fear of being a preacher is exactly that: failure to walk the talk. I fear that I would disappoint the church and most importantly God through my foolish action knowing full well that I am only a human being that’s prone to be tempted in so many different areas in life. In this realization, I am humbled that God with His grace allows me, a sinful person, to serve him. I pray that I would not disappoint Him. On a bigger picture, it is a lesson for all of us to always keep the integrity of our lives before others and most importantly before God. Because everything we say and do matter and may bring others to know God or to bring others to reject God.

Let us pray the prayer of the psalmist: “Lord, I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.” (Psalm 101:2, NLT)

May the Lord help us all.

Love and prayers,

Vincent Arishvara 08102018