Pastor, do not fall in love with the sound of your own voice

The preacher who loves the sound of his own voice is usually the last to know. Usually, he will explain his situation with something like this…..

–I love to preach.

–I don’t mind standing in front of groups and speaking extemperaneously. In fact, I get a charge out of it.

–If you ever need a last minute speaker, call on me.

–I’m a natural born leader, an outgoing person who loves everyone.

–Public speaking (or preaching) is my passion.

Maybe all of these things are true. Just maybe.  But once it becomes apparent that you have a romantic relationship with the sound of your own voice, you become a problem to everyone around you.  You get on your wife’s nerves, you push your staff members to the limit of their endurance, and your children make jokes about you behind your back.

The reason I know all this is true is because this is my own story.  I have been guilty of this cardinal sin, to my shame.  This very day, in fact.  I’ll not bore you with the details (!), but just know it’s true.

The minister in love with the sound of his own voice will…

1)Talk too much. You hate to yield the floor to someone else.  While they’re talking, you think of another story to tell them.  Surely, you think but would never admit, they love the words gushing forth from you as much as you do.

2) Preach too long.  You bypass several great stopping places when the sermon could have been so well received and so effective in the hearts of your hearers. But you just dreaded having to walk away from that pulpit.

3) Say a lot of inconsequential things, loading your talk with verbal filler. You are sure that everyone in the congregation would enjoy the little thing you child said on the playground last week as much as you do.  The problem is it takes you ten minutes to tell the story!!

You constantly diminish the value of your words by surrounding them with additional words.  Verbal inflation is a real thing.

4) Come to hate the sound of silence and rush to fill the void.

5) Burden your hearers, even those who love you most.  They’ll never do it, but something inside them wants to scream, “Would you stop talking!??  Just shut up!”

The old timers would often put themselves on retreats of silence as a matter of self-discipline.  It’s worth your considering.

Here are some texts with your (and my) name(s) all over them….

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

“Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).  And the next verse: “For the dream comes through much effort, and the voice of a fool through many words” (5:3). And then, “Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God” (5:6-7).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

How to control the flow of words gushing from the smiling opening in the front of your face:

1) Pray constantly for the Spirit to rule over your mind and heart.

2) Think about what you are going to say before you say it.  Do not make it up as you go.

3) Rehearse your sermons numerous times. Nothing will cut down on excess verbiage and foolish asides better than knowing what you came to say.

4) Even rehearse your ad libs and your announcements/promotions.  If you do this well, no one will ever know you planned it and the spontaneity will be preserved.

5) This is about spiritual maturity.  Young preachers tend to be the prime offenders in this, but not always.

6) Accept that “silence” and “control of one’s mouth” is not a spiritual gift bestowed at salvation, but a work of righteousness attained over long years of faithful obedience and strong discipline.

7) You will goof up, as I did this morning. In my case, I was tired from having been up all night. (It’s a long story.)  Over the years, I have learned that when I am tired, I cannot shut up. It’s a good thing to know about oneself, but meaningless if you don’t take advantage of that knowledge and discipline yourself.

I’m still working on it, you’ll be happy to know. And my wife will be even more thrilled.


4 thoughts on “Pastor, do not fall in love with the sound of your own voice

  1. A friend left a comment on the Facebook posting of this article, from Don Wilton (pastor of FBC Spartanburg) when he taught preaching at our N.O. seminary: “When you are driving down that preaching highway and turn on the blinker for the exit, don’t keep driving!” and “Whenyou are riding the preaching horse, ride like the wind. But remember, the horse tires before you do.” Great metaphors.

  2. An apt, insightful and scripturally grounded piece – something so many ordained preachers and lay preachers could benefit from…..most of all, me. Thank you Pastor!

  3. thank you, excellent article – I wish I could give it to some people lol! Unfortunately for reasons unknown religious speaking does seem to give some people an arena they are unable to stop talking in. If only they could rein it in, they would have so much more to contribute. Less is more. I loved your quotes from the bible too.

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