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Friday, August 5, 2011

Four words Each Day 5

Today I’m reading Proverbs 2:1-8.

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,

2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—

3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Here’s the final phrase that I will use from Patti Digh’s “Four Word Self Help”:

“Use your own voice.”

Have you heard of Keenan Cahill? He’s become a Youtube sensation because of his talent for lip syncing rock songs. He’s made a name for himself by mimicking other people’s talent. I’m guessing he will be one of these internet personalities that flames out as soon as the novelty wears off. It’s pretty hard to make your way through life by pretending to be someone else.

Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people who are syncing their way through life. They don’t know their own voice so they mimic who they think other people want them to be. It’s a basic insecurity. A lack of godly self-confidence. But then there’s always the risk of being exposed as a fraud (like the rock duo, Milli Vanilli, whose career tanked when their lip-synching was exposed).

I once had a ministerial colleague who had this problem. He was plagiarizing his sermons. He preached an entire sermon that was word for word taken from a well known preacher. The problem was it was a very widely known message. I even had the CD of the original. Now, every preacher is a scavenger of sorts. There’s very little that is absolutely new. There are lots of commonly-held illustrations or outlines available. But it’s one thing to use a thought or a phrase from someone else than it is to claim as your own someone else’s entire sermon. Sadly, plagiarism is rampant among preachers. And the internet makes it even easier.

When I confronted him about it he said that in a previous congregation he had run into a lot of criticism about his sermons. People is his congregation complained that his sermons weren’t deep enough. So, he decided to use one of the sermons of this well-known Bible teacher to see if that would pacify his congregation. That way he’d know if it really was a problem with content, or if they just didn’t like him. Well, the people liked it…and he didn’t feel confident enough in his own preaching skills to step things up to that level on his own. So, he did it again…and again…and pretty soon it became his habit – and he didn’t think anything about it. He was so afraid criticism that he lost his own voice. I’d like to say that he gave up plagiarizing, but a couple months later a parishioner came to me with a book she was reading, and in it was a story that this pastor had claimed as his own experience when obviously he had taken it from this author. Again he was sorry. (Sorry he got caught, maybe?). I hope he’s found his own voice by now.

Do you know your own voice? Do you have that kind of godly self-confidence and self-respect? Or do you find that you are faking it with people? It takes so much more energy to fake it than it does to find confidence in your own voice. God made you uniquely you. As I read somewhere "Be yourself - everyone else is already taken."


(Of course now I'm going to have to cite all my sources in all my future sermons!)

Today's prayer: "God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
 Amen". --Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)

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