This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Jan 31.
I’m sure you will not be surprised to find out that I love the spoken word. I don’t just mean sermons, even though I love those too (so long as they are done well). I love to hear anyone who is articulate talk about anything. I almost never listen to music, mostly because I am so tone deaf that I struggle to tell the difference between one song and another. I know all of the lyrics to the songs I do like because it is the words I love.
That means I am addicted to podcasts. Podcasts are a somewhat new phenomenon where someone will talk about something on the internet. I listen to podcasts all the time. I am currently listening to a podcast on the book of Exodus, and I am absolutely loving it. Why wouldn’t I? I have spent a lot of time reading the Bible, and it is very good for me to use podcasts to deepen my understanding of greatest book ever written.
But I listen to all kinds of podcasts. I listen to podcasts of movie reviews that I have no intention of ever watching, I listen to commentary on events I know nothing about and do not affect me in any way, and the other day, I was listening to a podcast on bee keeping. I have one allergy; it is bee stings! So, while I am prone to crazy ideas every now and then, putting a beehive in my back yard is probably not something I am going to do.
This is how much I love the spoken word. To hear someone speak intelligently and accurately about a topic is gratifying to me regardless of whether I care about the topic or not, and most of the time, I don’t. Do you know why I love the spoken word as much as I do? It is because God made me this way. Let me explain.
Of all of the personal interests that I could possibly have, why would it be that God would create in me, a poor kid from rural Hardin County, a love of the spoken word? It is because God had a plan for my life, and that plan was to be a pastor of a church. I may not have always known where that might be since I can’t say I ever aspired to lead a church in St Marys, but that was the plan God had for me. And one of the greatest gifts a pastor can give to the congregation they serve is the gift of clarity. The people of Wayne Street are gracious enough to give me 22-26 minutes on a Sunday morning to make a point. The worst thing I could do is not make any point at all.
To this day, when people meet me for the first time and they find out what I do for a living, one of two things happen. Either they tell me about their church, or they tell me about a bad incident they had in a church that lead to them not going anymore. And from my experience, the bad incident they describe is usually just the excuse for leaving, not the reason. The reason they left is because they did not comprehend the point of being an active part of a congregation. They needed a clearly articulated reason to be there. Whether that was the pastor’s fault for not communicating clearly (rare) or the person’s fault for not putting forth any effort to understand it (very common), the purpose of being a part of a congregation was never grasped.
And who knows that is the case? God knows this is the case. The Church belongs to Him, and if anyone knows how people experience being a part of a church, it is also Him. People fall away from the church because the purpose has not been made clear.
I am not a perfect vessel. In fact, I am an example of the Amazing Grace that God shows to all of us. But one of the few talents He gave me is a burning passion for speaking clarity. He wants His message given in a way that it can be understood. Do I hit that mark every Sunday? Of course I don’t, but that is always my goal. I want to speak clearly, because I know how much I love to hear something I can clearly understand and follow. That is the experience I want to provide every Sunday morning when I stand up before God’s people.
The question I want you to wrestle with is this: Would my love of the spoken word have meant anything at all had I taken my life in a different direction? Sure, God gave me the passion for spoken words, but what would that mean had I ended up in computer programming, which I considered for a while?
God gave me what I needed in order to serve His purpose. I am not sure what those gifts would have meant had my life gone in a different direction.