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preaching article The Pastor's Constant Temptation

The Pastor's Constant Temptation

based on 14 ratings
Jun 12, 2013

Sometimes, I go all David Copperfield on myself, put on a low-rent bourgeois magic show, and convince myself that I am larger than life. And, of course, no one is larger than life. I am a small collection of particles, carefully ordered, wandering around in desperate need of air, water, sleep, warmth and tenderness. I do not run very many things or understand very much. I have not successfully figured myself out, much less God, life and the world.

But because I am so prone to buy into my own little act, I need the gift of mountains and sea to protest my disproportionate sense of scale, to make me feel smaller and less necessary. Like Job, I need to be reminded of mountain goats and sea monsters to help me get my place in the cosmos.

There is so much weight assigned to us to be special, to be unique, to distinguish ourselves. There is a great deal of pressure to be “great.” But what if, today, I want to enjoy my status as my Father’s awkward, backward son, absurdly treasured and irrationally loved?

Religious leaders want to help me find “meaning” and “purpose.” In the meantime, I have no idea what I am going to eat for lunch. I must figure it out very soon — it is almost 11:30am. How am I supposed to find the meaning of life when I have no idea what kind of sandwich I want today? To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, who needs meaning when you can have lunch with a friend anyway?

Today, I do not feel like putting on my magician’s hat, waving my wand, and creating illusions of my own significance for you or for myself. I am content to make my lunch plan, and I am going to get it right. I am not going to build a platform; I much prefer building sand castles. I am not going to come up with reasons why I am lovable or why my life has worth. I’ll be at home in my smallness, at peace with the knowledge that the way I am loved is largely absurd.

You can have your meaning, your purpose, your significance. I will not feel condescended to if you look at me like I am a useless son, or if you think me half-drunk on my Father’s silly affections. I am perfectly aware that I did not purchase this coat of many colors, and have no reasons to wear it proud as a peacock. But I will wear the hell out of it, over-sized luxury on such a small person.

I have no pretensions of greatness. I am a circus act; I am a walking comedy. I am infinitely ridiculous; I am infinitely loved.



Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at JoeMcKeever.com.

Talk about it...

Lafern Cobb avatar
Lafern Cobb
0 days ago
First of all let me say I am a 60 year old woman who has been in the ministry for over 30 years. I Pastor a nice size church considering we are in a small town in Michigan. My husband and I have been ministering for 20 years this July in our little corner of the world. I love being a Pastor, a Shepherd, a Mother to a group of wonderful people. Like you Pastor Martin, we are just trying to figure out "what to have for lunch." I had to write this so I could make my next statement......I love you Pastor Martin, would you be my "adopted son?"
David Buffaloe avatar
David Buffaloe
0 days ago
A very sweet, and unexpected article. I enjoyed it very much.
Danny Baskin avatar
Danny Baskin
0 days ago
Thanks so much for a much needed word. You remind us of the reality of our situation.
Kate Turner avatar
Kate Turner
0 days ago
Well said. Thank you. I suggested Proverbs 3:5-8 as supporting scripture.
Kate Turner avatar
Kate Turner
0 days ago
Well said. Thank you. I suggested Proverbs 3:5-8 as supporting scripture.
Irene Allen avatar
Irene Allen
0 days ago
I wish I could smiley face this article, because it sure made me smile.
Mark Nielson avatar
Mark Nielson
0 days ago
Jonathan...thanks for articulating what most of us feel and experience everyday! Now...what was it I was going to have for lunch?
Dennis  Stewart avatar
Dennis Stewart
0 days ago
I thought you did a great job writing about this particular topic and did so in a nice, humorous manner. However, I have one particular 'beef' with the line toward the end: "But I will wear the hell out of it.." I'm not a fan of attempting to use expletives to grab people's attention; you already had mine. And no, I'm not being 'overly puritianical' when I say that; there's just certain language that's proper and some that's not. In my opinion, that was totally unnecessary. Otherwise, nice job.
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
@Dennis Stewart, I agree!
Billy Brim avatar
Billy Brim
0 days ago
i think the article was confusing and the cursing was totally un-called for. Does sermon central not proof read these articles before they are sent in? I usually love the articles but this one, especially with the use of cursing...by a pastor, should not have been presented to the public. Pastor Billy Brim
Rick Bishop avatar
Rick Bishop
0 days ago
While we may all use explitives from time to time, I would agree that your article had meaning an power without the need for it. I think you did a great job of reminding us that men make plans and God laughs. Let's all not take ourselves so serious, love big, forgive always, revel in God's grace, and cut each other some slack. God bless...
Rick Bishop avatar
Rick Bishop
0 days ago
While we may all use explitives from time to time, I would agree that your article had meaning an power without the need for it. I think you did a great job of reminding us that men make plans and God laughs. Let's all not take ourselves so serious, love big, forgive always, revel in God's grace, and cut each other some slack. God bless...
Rick Bishop avatar
Rick Bishop
0 days ago
While we may all use explitives from time to time, I would agree that your article had meaning an power without the need for it. I think you did a great job of reminding us that men make plans and God laughs. Let's all not take ourselves so serious, love big, forgive always, revel in God's grace, and cut each other some slack. God bless...
Rick Bishop avatar
Rick Bishop
0 days ago
While we may all use explitives from time to time, I would agree that your article had meaning an power without the need for it. I think you did a great job of reminding us that men make plans and God laughs. Let's all not take ourselves so serious, love big, forgive always, revel in God's grace, and cut each other some slack. God bless...
Scott Hover avatar
Scott Hover
0 days ago
Remove your shoes you are on holy ground. I don't like to go barefoot, I have tender feet. :) But I think it worth reminding myself that most everyday.
Scott Hover avatar
Scott Hover
0 days ago
Remove your shoes you are on holy ground. I don't like to go barefoot, I have tender feet. :) But I think it worth reminding myself that most everyday.
Robert Richter avatar
Robert Richter
0 days ago
The great temptation these days seems to be embracing worldly language and techniques to grab the audience's attention at any cost.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
I don't want to get into a discussion over the use of "worldly language," and I understand that some people are more sensitive to that kind of language than others. But seriously, people, we're talking about ONE word (and a rather mild one, as far as "expletives" go) out of an article containing several hundred words. Clearly the author did not use it because he "needed" it or because he was trying to "grab the audience's attention at any cost." If anything, he UNDERUSED worldly language if that was what he was trying to do. No, that author used that word because in that one specific instance, he felt that was the most appropriate word to communicate what he wanted to express. Now, many of you obviously disagree with that choice. Fair enough. It's a valid point that certainly has a right to be expressed. But seriously, that point has been sufficiently made (and posted repeatedly by Rick Bishop!). Can we move on to the larger topic addressed by the article?
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
@Bill, what if he used the "F" word, but only used it once out of all the words he used, would that be okay! Some people would use THAT word because they think it's the most appropriate one to use. Eph. 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." What if I as a pastor used the word "hell" in that context, do you think the people I pastor would say, "Well, he only used it once out of the many other words he spoke." I don't think so. I believe I would lose the respect of those people no matter what else I said. One little sin, one big sin, one little expletive, one big expletive, I believe its all the same to God. We need to be VERY careful with our words because we could cause others to stumble.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
@Dennis, don't get me wrong. I'm not defending his use of the word. My point is that he used it. Now what? What am I going to do about that? I wouldn't have used that word, but I have no control whatsoever over the words the author chooses. And are there people with whom the author will lose respect and credibility for using that word. Of course, and that is a risk that author chose to take. But again, I have no control over that, either. The only thing that I can control is how I respond. Am I going to let one word, accounting for just over two-tenths of one percent of the entire article (yes, I did the math!) distract me from the overall message of what even those who disagreed with the language admitted was a good article? And I can only answer that question for myself. I agree with the text from Ephesians about corrupt communication, I agree that all sin is sin to God, and I agree that we have to watch our words lest we be a stumbling block. That is why I am not defending his use of that word. I'm not saying it was OK for him to use that word. All I'm saying is, your point has been made. There's no need to continue to beat that drum. Likewise, my point has also been made, so that's all I'm going to say about that.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
@Dennis, by the way, welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your vacation. :)
Stephen Belokur avatar
Stephen Belokur
0 days ago
I must be too much of a dullard to make any sense out of the article.
Bill Williams avatar
Bill Williams
0 days ago
Some here may be trying to "over-analyze" the article. All he is saying is that we have no inherent meaning or significance in and of ourselves, other than that which is lavished upon us by our Prodigal Father. Despite our insignificance, we are loved. The article is simply a retelling of Psalm 8.
Dennis Cocks avatar
Dennis Cocks
0 days ago
@Bill, Thanks, good to be back, and yes I enjoyed my vacation!
Mike Lindon avatar
Mike Lindon
0 days ago
One Pastor says: When you say the word Hell it should be with a tear in our eye. I believe he was right.
Jason Cardwell avatar
Jason Cardwell
0 days ago
I have a sincere question: Can anyone make a coherent argument that the Scriptural warnings about "corrupt" speech have anything to do with our modern lists of "cuss" words? I'm not saying it doesn't, but I have never seen anyone make the case without assuming what they were trying to prove...
Linda Lisak avatar
Linda Lisak
0 days ago
I agree wholeheartedly with Lafern Cobb! Pastor Martin is refreshing, and has a great sense of humor. What I took from his writing (which is pretty awesome!) is that he is taking off the "mask" so many of us felt we needed! I, too, am in my 60's, 2 married sons, and serving the Lord. We need a genuine heart like Pastor Martin's. But then again, one must read it with eyes of grace, love and discernment, not a holier-than-thou-attitude. Blessings to Pastor Martin.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.