Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Just be yourself

When Rick Warren and Saddleback Church first became well-known it was interesting to watch some pastors begin to shape their ministries and even their dress after him. At the time I read a comment that pastors around the country had stopped wearing suits and even socks in the pulpit! Others modeled their leadership styles and actions after Bill Hybels. I read one pastor's admission that he began to pronounce his words like Ravi Zacharias even though he wasn't Indian. And how many have tried to copy Billy Graham's style of preaching? I remember attending a revival a number of years ago when the speaker's mannerisms and speech reminded me of Graham. Since I had numerous private conversations with him I knew these mannerisms and speech were reserved for the pulpit and found them an unnecessary distraction.

Many of us go into the ministry impacted by those we admire. It's natural that some of our mentors' influences will show through in our ministry and preaching styles. However, we must be careful that we don't simply become a clone of another minister.

God has created each of us with our own individual personalities and gifts. He equipped us just the way he wanted us. Now, we are expected to develop those personalities and gifts. That development will last a lifetime if we want to remain effective in ministry, but such development will not happen if we are content to just model ourselves after someone else.

We need to just be ourselves whether we are in the pulpit or elsewhere. We don't need to develop a pulpit voice or manufacture special mannerisms for when we are preaching. I think this is even more critical for bivocational ministers because people are used to seeing us in our non-ministerial roles. I don't want people to see me conduct an auction and then later preach in a church and wonder if I have a split personality. I simply want to be Dennis because I believe that is how people will best relate to me.

Have you developed a ministry persona that is different from your everyday life? Does that persona feel natural to you? If not, it probably doesn't feel natural to those around you either. God didn't call you into the ministry to be someone's clone. Just be yourself.

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