Preacher, Sponsor, Spiritual Friend

Preacher, Sponsor, Spiritual Director

“The first time I was asked to give a lecture on preaching at the Festival of Homilectics, I wasn’t sure what to say, so I asked my congregation. There was passion in their replies and none of it had to do with how much they appreciated their preacher being such an amazing role model for them. Not one said they love the real-life applications they receive in the sermon for how to have a more victorious marriage. Almost all of them said they love that their preacher is so obviously preaching to herself and just allowing them to overhear it.

My friend Tullian put it this way: ‘Those most qualified to speak the gospel are those who truly know how unqualified they are to speak the gospel.’

Never once did Jesus scan the room for the best example of holy living and send that person out to tell others about him. He always sent stumblers and sinners. I found that comforting.”

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, Find God in All the Wrong People, 2015, pp. 29-30.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber is a very unconventional Lutheran pastor in Denver whose presence, writing, and preaching speak to so many of us because she is so aware of who she is and her struggle.  I have found what her congregation is telling her about preaching is true for me in other disciplines as well. Everything I tell someone in a 12-step program as a friend or sponsor is actually what I need to hear in my recovery, pray every morning, make a gratitude list, do an inventory at night, make amends every day to the people I have harmed, remember I am powerless, keep doing the steps, keep going to meetings. This is also true as a spiritual director. What I say to a spiritual friend is also what I need to hear in order to keep my own connection to God, take time for silence, spend as much time outside where I may most realize the presence of God, look for Christ in myself, look for Christ in all I meet, be grounded in my body. When I forgot that I have need to hear all these things as well, in preaching, recovery, spiritual direction, I am in big trouble.  I become like the Episcopal bishop in CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce (chapter 5) who must leave heaven and return to hell because he is reading a paper to a theological society to enlighten them about how Jesus’s teachings would have changed if he had lived longer.


Nadia will be at Trinity Cathedral Little Rock April 5th 2018