Hero or Villain of Your Illustrations


Just in case you don’t know this pastors tell stories to convey truth. I don’t mean stories as in lies (though that happens sometimes too). Nope I mean stories from what happens in our lives. I regularly tell stories during the messages I preach at Tapestry. These are usually stories of things I have seen around town, things that I have done, and quite often these are stories of my failures. They help me to convey the point of the scripture I am discussing with everyone.

Right now the weekly small group that Pam and I are a part of is reading “Love Walked Among Us” by Paul Miller. We are only 6 chapters into it and thus far I am really connecting with it.  I think one of the reason that it is working for me is that Miller usually tells stories where he is the “bad guy” in the story. He is usually pointing out someone else’s success instead of his own. Personally it drives me nuts when speakers/preachers tend to tell stories that make them look good and everyone else look bad.

Case in point when I was the Youth Minister at First Baptist Church in Carthage, Missouri the whole church staff listened to a series of lectures from John Maxwell concerning a winning attitude. During one of those tapes Maxwell was using some illustration about flying with eagles versus walking with turkeys. I remember him telling a story about asking his receptionist for a phone number he had given her earlier in the week. After searching for twenty minutes she walked into his office and apologized for not being able to find the peace of paper with the phone number. Maxwell used this moment to describe the winning attitude versus the turkey attitude. He told his receptionist that she should never have come into his office without the number. He then took her back to her desk and in front of the whole church staff made her watch as he searched her desk until he found the phone number and showed it to her. Maxwell used this as an example of what to do. According to him he had the right attitude, she had the wrong one.

All I could think at the time was “what a jerk.” Actually to be honest I called him things in my mind that were a little worse than jerk and wouldn’t be polite for me to share on this blog.

Anyhow, I know some people really connect with Maxwell and his lectures have helped them a great deal. Personally I haven’t listened to or read another thing from Maxwell since then so I don’t know if he has changed his ways or not. That series of tapes was enough for me.

Every now and then I run into other preachers who do this too. Their illustrations show them as the hero of the story and others as the villain. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Seems to me that you are just pointing out other’s faults in an attempt to make your own self look good. I think it goes against Jesus’s whole thing about the speck in your neighbor’s eye versus the planks in your own eye. Personally I hope to do a much better job of recognizing my own weakness and failure than I do other people’s AND I hope to do a much better job of recognizing their victories than I do my own.

Of course, right now I am kind of doing what I find so reprehensible in other speakers. Whoops. Obviously I still have a lot of work to do on myself.