By: Rev. Dr. Brad Morgan
I was preaching. But, Mr. Don Corley was shaking his head no!
What? This was an essential point. How could Mr. Corley disagree? Don was one of the many saints I have been blessed to serve who educated me in faith. But on this Sunday, in my student pastorate, Don was shaking his head during my sermon in the universal sign for no.
Confused, I decided to pause my written sermon and make the point again. Don shook his head. Redoubling my efforts, I moved my notes to the side, looked straight at him, and made the point once more. Don shook his head again. By the end of the sermon, I had taken my jacket off, rolled up my sleeves, and made that same point at least seven different ways. And each time, yep, you guessed it. Don shook his head.
Following worship as Don was grabbing his hat and heading out the door, I shook his hand and pulled him toward me. I asked, “Why did you disagree?” Don responded, “What? Disagree? It was your best sermon yet!” Befuddled, I asked more directly, “Why were you shaking your head?” Don responded, “I was up sick most of the night. You made that first point and I was feeling sleepy, so I shook my head to stay awake.”
My lessons in humility, of which this was only one, have taught me that we don’t know what people are thinking when we’re preaching. We shouldn’t project our fears onto others. Make a faithful offering to God. Be faithful in preparation and delivery. Proclaim the Scriptures through the Gospel of Grace. Sacrificially love those you serve. Trust God to do the rest. Let the only person you fear letting down be God. And, never be afraid to preach a one-point sermon. It might be your best yet.
Dr. Brad Morgan is Senior Pastor at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He is married to his best friend Laura and they have two teenagers, John and Kate. Brad enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, woodworking, and reading - but says he does not spend enough time to be really good at any of them, so he remains a “work in progress.” Brad graduated Cum Laude with a M. Div, SMU, Perkins School of Theology, and D. Min SMU, Perkins School of Theology with Honors. He currently Serves on the Executive Board of Perkins School of Theology, is a facilitator for the Perkins ARKLATEX Fellows and Hosts the annual Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence ARKLATEX Lectures at Williams Memorial UMC.
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