My professor for public speaking class gave me a warning on my final project about a billion years ago. Right next to the “A” (woo hoo!) was an admonishment to be careful about having so much of what I do based on (trying) to be funny. There is a great reward when it works – like a high mark on a project. But when it doesn’t work, it can be hard to overcome. So, guess what happened to me a couple of days ago when I was preaching?
It was my third time doing the same teaching for the day. The first time the funny comment went over extremely well. I didn’t try it in the second worship slot because I’d determined it wouldn’t have translated as well to that crowd. For the third crowd I gave it a go. It was the opening of my message – a great time to help people relax and take things in a bit better. The reaction of this crowd was very different from the first. Maybe it was my poor delivery. Maybe the clouds that had descended over the church had changed the atmosphere a little too much. The reason remains a mystery, and I’m sure most of them still don’t know it even happened. The sound of crickets and the look of blank faces startled me. I mumbled something and started reading line for line from my notes (which I almost never do) until I could get back into what I had planned for the morning.
I’ll do it again, though. I’ll keep doing what I do because I’ve seen it work. Somebody has said that laughter is good because it promotes honesty. I don’t know why that’s true, but I believe it. For all the times humor works to help people listen, I’ll take a few hits now and then. Yeah, I realize that preaching isn’t a stand up comedy act. But, as the Apostle Paul says, I’ll become whatever I have to become to save even a few people.
Feel free to fall on your face sometime (not literally, of course). When it does happen, pick yourself up and keep going. Just keep in mind that you’re doing whatever it takes to get the job done.