“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Recently a young preacher from our church posted on Facebook that he was going to have the opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning while the senior pastor was on vacation. He was excited about being given the privilege of standing in the pastor’s place to feed the people of God in the most important service of the week. What struck me about the post was one of the comments posted by another young preacher. While there were several congratulations, one in particular got my attention. It simply said, “rip their faces off!” Now, I understand the exuberance of youth and that we all use humor on Facebook, but I think it might be profitable to consider whether or not “ripping people’s faces off” is a legitimate calling for the man of God.
Preaching the Word of God is one of the greatest privileges that we as ministers have. The Word of God contains the power of God and under the anointing of the Spirit of God it makes an eternal difference in the lives of the hearers. After thirty-seven years in the pastoral ministry, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest thing I can do to help our people is to follow the words of Simon Peter who said, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
God not only tells us what we are to do in communicating His Word, but He also tells us how we are to speak His Word. The Bible is clear that the one who communicates the Word must someday give an account for how he handled the message. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
I do not believe God is ever pleased with an attitude that approaches preaching with “ripping their faces off.”
It is true that preaching is sometimes correctional as well as instructional. In fact, God uses the word rebuke in the context of preaching.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2
One of the purposes of preaching is to correct and rebuke those in error, but the spirit of that rebuke should be a desire to help, not a desire to wield power by humiliating and hurting the congregation.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” 2 Timothy 2:24
When God’s people come to a service, they deserve a man who stands in the pulpit with a shepherd’s heart. A heart of love, compassion, and humility energized by the Holy Spirit and instructed by the mind of Christ.
Effective preaching must be energized by the Holy Spirit, and God is clear concerning the type of man He empowers.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15
If your only goal is to “rip someone’s face off” maybe you should consider a different profession. A plastic surgeon or military combat officer might be a better venue for removing people’s faces.