I was preaching away from home on a Sunday morning.
Before the service, the pastor asked an associate preacher to lead the offering.
“Can you do that?” he asked, somewhat sternly.
“Just receive the offering. That’s it.”
This back-and-forth went on for several minutes. I didn’t get it… until it happened.
The young preacher rose and said, “It’s offering time.”
Then he added, “Before we receive the offering, let me tell you a story!” He went on to tell several jokes and then fuss at the congregation.
The pastor was as hot as fish grease.
I laughed. But it wasn’t funny.
This is a pulpit sin with big consequences that young, associate preachers tend to commit. It is the sin of taking liberties.
- He is asked to read the scripture. He gets up and gives a call to worship.
- He is asked to pray. He gets up and sings a verse of “Shine On Me.”
- He is asked to welcome the guests. He gets up and introduces himself!
- He is asked to make the announcements. He gets up and gives a sermonette, with text and outline.
- He is asked to lead a song. He gets up and gives a mini-concert.
- He is asked to preach. He gets up and criticizes the leadership or membership. In love, of course.
- He is asked to…
Well, you get the picture.
As a pastor, there are times when I call an “audible” in worship. I get to the line of scrimmage and change the planned order of worship. I view this as part of my responsibility as the worship leader.
However, if it is not your pulpit, you do not have the right or responsibility to call an audible.
Your duty is singular: Do what you have been asked to do. In fact, it’s twofold: Do what you have been asked to do and sit down.
If you do what you are asked, you will not have the time or opportunity to impress the congregation. But you will earn their respect.
Moreover, by doing what you are asked, you increase the odds that you will be asked to serve again. However, a guaranteed way to limit future opportunities is to take liberties in the pulpit.
Remember: To get over what the Lord has put under you, you must get under what the Lord has put over you.
Authority comes through submission.
Do you want more opportunities, ministerial respect, and increased authority?
Just do what you are asked.
The Most Important Commandment
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mark 12:28-34 Armies win…