Just because people look to us when we teach from the platform, we must not automatically think we possess knowledge, spiritual insights, or anything not available to the least among us. They could be listening to God themselves.
Just because they fill the pews to worship and in the process listen to our sermons and say good things afterwards, does not mean they are there to hear us. They could be there for greater reasons.
If they laugh at our jokes and weep at our stories, we are not to think of ourselves as gifted communicators who have mastered our craft. It could be they are people of grace and graciousness who are simply being polite.
We are messengers for Jesus Christ. Our sole assignment is to lift Him up.
Anything more is wrong.
And it could be dangerous.
There is the temptation to pontificate. A pulpiteer pontificates when he comes across as a little pope sharing the mind of God with mere earthlings, or dictating behavior to his listeners. He believes something is true simply because he said it.
All humility has gone out the window. All gray areas have disappeared, and all questions about right and wrong have their solution in his pronouncements. Lord help his congregation.
There is the temptation to preen. Privately, he spends too much time checking his image in the mirror and goes to extremes to see that his clothing and coiffure are only the best. His public expects nothing less from him, he assures himself. The household budget is sacrificed so that he can dress the part he has chosen for himself. Pity his poor wife, if he has one.
The moment the messenger begins to think he himself is the message, everything goes downhill from there on.
The temptation towards posturing. He expects to be treated differently from others, to be taken to the head of the line at the restaurant, to be recognized by the public, and acclaimed by everyone. Everything he does is determined, not by the question, “what does the Lord want?” but “what will enhance my ministry?”
Any pastor who has been doing the Lord’s work for a decade or more has seen the type, and is sickened by it.
Let the preacher say with John the Baptist, “He must increase; I must decrease.”