When You Want the Preacher to Move On

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

I’ve been poking around the Paul Powell Legacy Library, an online resource that contains audio, video, and writings from the aforementioned Texas Baptist preacher, who served as pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas for seventeen years. Paul was and continues to be an influential person in my life.

One of those audio files is called, “Funny Stories I Like to Tell.” The audio runs forty five minutes. That’s a lot of jokes.

Paul sets up one of these jokes by inviting the people of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, whom Paul was then serving as interim, to pray for the pulpit committee. Paul said that it is harder to get rid of a preacher than it is to find one, and that’s why it is important to call a good one, and to pray for those who are responsible for the search.

Paul then said:

A church had a pompous preacher they wanted to get rid of. They prayed that he would leave. They recommended him everywhere. But no one would call him.

Finally he received a call to be a pastor in another place. The Sunday he resigned he said, “When I came here five years ago, Jesus led me here. And now Jesus is leading me away.”

When he was finished the chairman of the deacons stood and said, “Let’s all sing, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus.’”

Brother Paul was known for his sense of humor, and even compiled a number of his jokes in a book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Retirement.

I think humor is such an indispensable quality to look for in a leader, not only for the capacity to make others laugh, but in the ability to laugh at your own goofs, mess ups, and mistakes. When I find a good joke, I like to hang on to it.

And to tell it.

File Under: “Could, But Shouldn’t”

Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

In 2011, the last time inflation was on the rise, the then-president of the New York Federal Reserve, William Dudley, ventured into a working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, to give a speech explaining why inflation wasn’t a big deal. Finding that he wasn’t making an impact, Dudley famously picked up an iPad 2 and told his audience, “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful.”

“I can’t eat an iPad!” someone in the audience shouted back.

Samuel Gregg, “That Doesn’t Feel Like $150 Worth of Groceries,” via the Common Sense Substack Newsletter

Filling the Pulpit

Photo by Mitchell Leach on Unsplash

When someone steps in on a Sunday to preach a sermon, this is described as “filling the pulpit.”

It has also been observed that a high percentage of ministers are overweight.

Feel free to look up the studies.

Considering some are more literal in their mode of interpretation than others, this may be an instance of a metaphor being missed. In their effort to match their frame to the sizableness of their pulpit, the minister may become prone to excess at the congregational potluck, not because they wish to be a glutton, but rather a grand pulpiteer.

With regard to preaching, pastors want to rise to the occasion. If filling a pulpit, these pastors expand for the exhortation. People pleasers that they are, if they need to fill their bellies to more fully fill a pulpit, whether they eat or drink or whatever they do, they’ll do so to the glory of God.

Instead of inviting someone to fill the pulpit, perhaps we should be more direct, ask our preacher to “preach the Word,” in season or out of season, in whatever shape, and at whatever size, they may so be.