I am absolutely not perfect.
I thought about this earlier this week when an…ahem…gentleman slid alongside me to the right, disregarding my right turn signal, and nearly hit the pedestrian I was allowing to cross. I may or may not have said things I shouldn’t have. I may or may not have made a vulgar gesture to him (below his sightline).
Our pastor had a wonderful lesson for us this last Sunday. He said we are all – no matter what we are doing or who we are – we are all preaching from the pulpit of our lives. We are all preachers.
What are we preaching?
Now, I know Pastor Herb and I know he meant all Christians, but think about it- everyone is showing their understanding of good vs evil, heaven vs hell, redemption vs sacrifice, with nearly everything they do except, perhaps, sleep. (And even that could be a sermon on self-care and the value of taking care of our health.)
We show it in the way we talk to our children, our spouses, the lady at the grocery store who is having a really bad day with her toddler. Each and every day we preach our beliefs to anyone we come across.
I wondered, just a bit, if we are still preaching if God is the only one who knows we did it, as in the case of the crude gesture. After all, I was alone in the car. And, sigh, yeah, I got it- I preached to myself about where my priorities lay when I got uptight at the rude driver.
Language is one area where I have always had a true weakness. Profanity and expletives have been a documented problem for me since I was (maybe?) three years old and at an ice cream shop with my mother. To hear her tell it, these sweet older women just oohed and aahed over this little blond girl with glasses who was just (sigh) so cute. Until that cute girl with glasses dumped an ice cream scoop into her lap and loudly announced, “dammit!”
So it’s been a lifelong problem.
At work, at church, with some members of family and among mixed company, I probably sound well educated and I try very hard to keep my language appropriate to the circumstance. But when I am driving, or hurting, or angry – the epithets come ringing out.
There are studies that say cussing can ease pain. I don’t know if they do or not, because if I am suddenly hurt, the cussing just comes. So there’s no real control test to see if a lack of cussing makes pain last longer.
Back to our pulpit, though. One of the reasons I try so hard to be careful what I say, despite a natural tendency to either say the wrong thing or to use casual curses, is because I am well aware that others are watching. They see how I act, they hear how I talk, and even though the location or audience of my pulpit may change, I am still responsible for the message I am sending.
What is your message? How can you change it to fit what you actually believe?
Pastor Herb’s verses (both are New International Version, NIV):
Philippians 2:3 –
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
Well, that doesn’t necessarily reflect the cussing problem, in that I am careful about my audience. But it does give us a framework for our lives, and for how we treat others.
2 Corinthians 5:17 –
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
I just wish my new creation didn’t still have a potty mouth. Or didn’t secretly, still, enjoy it.
2 Corinthians 5:18 –
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Reconciliation to God.
Reconciliation to each other.
Reconciliation with our own selves, as human and fallable as we are.
So I’ll keep working on it. What will you preach today?