I have preached plenty of sermons in churches. The older I get, though, the more I realize I mostly want to preach with how I live my life. It’s news to no one that everyone’s life preaches something.
And yes, people are watching. One summer in college I worked at a youth camp. One day I was in a van driven by an area pastor that was carrying about a dozen junior high campers. Suddenly a driver cut the van off in the middle of a mall parking lot. The pastor swore out loud at the driver and then berated him. Yep, the campers heard quite the sermon that afternoon!
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”
Look around. You’ll see lots of sermons being preached. Actually, some pretty good ones, too:
* Kindness is everything.
* Love is the greatest force in the world.
* Make room for friends.
* Women’s rights are human rights.
* Family and friends are more important than work.
* Black lives matter.
* Use your power to help the weak.
* Speak the truth in love.
* Give people the benefit of the doubt.
* Grieve with those who grieve.
* God can redeem our mistakes and failures.
* God’s Word is the bedrock through any storm in life.
* Be prepared.
* And of course, treat people the way you want to be treated.
… The list goes on and on.
And then of course, there are dark sermons we can preach too:
* You can’t trust people.
* Protect yourself at all costs.
* Security is everything.
* Never rest or take a sabbath. That’s for the weak.
* I prefer my own spirituality and beliefs.
* In the end, people always disappoint you.
* Whoever dies with the most toys, wins.
* Play your cards close to the vest.
… And that list goes on and on, too, doesn’t it?
What sermons does your life preach? Can you name some of them? It’s not always so easy to do, but give it some thought. We all have sermons our lives preach, or sermons that we want our lives to preach.
Blogger Amy Galloway says here’s a way to think about the sermons we want our lives to preach:
* Look at your driving values. What are the things that repeatedly come up in your conversations with others? Intimacy with God. Relationships. Perseverance. Joy. Hope. Simplicity. Adventure. Open-mindedness. Honesty. Care for the outcast.Order. Discipline.
Our values are embedded in the sermons our life preaches.
* Look at your gifts and calling. What kinds of things give you life? What do you do over and over again that God blesses? Well, that’s your sermon. Keep preaching it.
* Look at major losses or failures. Some of those might just be your greatest teacher and open the door to the sermons your life can best preach.
* What are you most passionate about? What makes you weep? What makes you angry? What gives you joy? When are you most happy? What kinds of things would you like doing if you never got paid a dime? What things do you like doing over and over and over?
* Ask your friends, spouse, children, or co-workers what sermons your life preaches. Those closest to you probably know the sermons your life preaches, the good ones AND the bad ones. What young adult child hasn’t said to his father, “Okay dad, we got your point.” Or worse, “You’ve gone to preaching.”
If you can get settled on the sermons you want your life to preach, the question becomes, “What are you going to do about it?” I like what writer Galloway says:
I bless you with courage to live and speak your sermons. Your voice is needed. I bless you to discover the ‘pulpits’ to best communicate your sermons and the wisdom to know when a new pulpit is on the horizon. May God empower each of us today to step into our pulpits with joy, power, and confidence. Amen.