I was looking forward to John’s sermon.
John (not his real name) was a loved and respected Associate Minister at our church. He didn’t have an opportunity to preach often, but when he did, he very effectively delivered a message that was validated because he was a model husband, father and friend to all.
As soon as John began speaking, I knew something was wrong.
His opening illustration was not like those he typically used. It was not his, and I had heard it word-for-word very recently.
Not only had I heard the opening illustration, I had heard the entire sermon!
For twenty-five minutes, he delivered the exact sermon that I had heard on a cassette tape just a few weeks earlier.
At that time, I subscribed to cassette tapes offered by several well-known preachers, as well as motivational tapes and books on tape. (Those were the days before CDs.) I always keep a good supply of tapes (CDs today) in my car to listen to while driving.
When I returned home after the church service, I put in my tape player a sermon from Bob Russell of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.
Yes, it was the same sermon, same illustrations.
I was disappointed and concerned for John. It was not John’s sermon. Most likely, I was the only person who heard that sermon and knew what had happened. Even so, I was not the most important person who knew … John knew.
John is my friend. Monday, I went to visit with him.
I didn’t go to criticize him for what he had done, but to encourage him to do what he should have done, be himself.
I reminded John that we loved and respected him, not for what he preached, but for his sincerity because he practiced what he preached.
When he used another man’s sermon, he undermined and denied us his sincerity and truth that meant so much to us. His integrity was at stake.
I encouraged him to preach his own sermons and continue to show us the real John. The John we loved and respected.
How about you?
Are you preaching your own sermon? Are you living the real you, or are you trying to imitate someone else? There will always be someone present who knows that it is not the real you. Certainly you will know.
When I was young I tried to imitate people I admired. It did not work. I had to learn to forget about imitating other people. I had to learn that I could only be successful at being myself.
Finally, I realized, I cannot live with a fake me!
Can you live with a fake you?
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