Personal, The Unorthodox Confessions

Confessions, pt 3 – Sanctifying My Hyperbole


This series is about all the things pastors aren’t supposed to say. It is expressing the really deep, hidden sins of my life. These posts might make you uncomfortable if you believe that pastors are somehow superhuman. But if you are willing to accept that I am a sinful, broken human being whom God loves and uses despite me, then maybe you will be encouraged and edified by them.

Sometimes I Lie Exaggerate for Effect

Preachers are communicators, and that means we like to keep people’s attention when we’re speaking. We like it when people are responding to what we’re saying. For some preachers, they’re content with the occasional “Amen” or “mmm, Yes” but I go for the bigger responses.

I like to hear belly laughs. I have gotten through when people are tapping the person next to them and saying through tears caused by laughing so much, “He is so right!” For my inspiration, I generally don’t look to men like C. H. Spurgeon and D. L. Moody. My influences run more along the lines of John Belushi and Robin Williams (sans the over the top vulgarity anyway).

Unfortunately, that means I lie sometimes – not big lies or even intentional ones. It is just that as stories are moving from my head to my mouth, there is some kind of amplifier that blows them completely out of proportion to make them funnier.

It is sometimes so bad that I have to actually stop mid-sermon and say, “No, that was an exaggeration. I’m sorry.” I’ve had to do that more than once.

This is, however, one of the rare situations where my sin was apologizing rather than the thing I was apologizing for.

See, if I were a comedian, I could get away with it under the guise of comedic license. Even Christian comedians like Mark Lowry and Ken Davis can get away with it. They’ve never had to apologize for it. It’s not lying for them. It’s just the way comedians are.

My sin in this case was that I was allowing people’s expectations to dictate my style. Because I am a pastor, I am not allowed to use hyperbole. Because I am a pastor, every word I speak is gospel.

This is bull. The Bible is full of hyperbole. Even Jesus used hyperbole sometimes to get a point across. (Camel through the eye of a needle, anyone?) It is a perfectly valid method of communication that is used around the world.

We (and by this, I mean Christians) need to use some discernment when listening to or reading anything and realize that figures of speech, idioms and literary devices are a matter of fact in oral communication.

And we (and by this, I mean Christian leaders and speakers) need to repent of the sin of trying to appease people and be completely politically correct when speaking and use the tools of language that God has provided for us.

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