“You’re Gonna Be A Preacher”

Years ago, there was a precious 90-year-old lady who would always say to me: “You’re gonna be a preacher.” Somehow she had it in her mind that I was going to be a preacher.

I recently heard someone I grew up with who told how he was called to preach when he was 18 years old. He was the son of a preacher and he accepted that calling and is still preaching today.

People had always assumed that I would become a preacher since my grandfather and my dad were preachers. Early in my life I felt the pressure of following in that path but it never happened for me. There were times that I felt like a failure or that something was wrong with me because I didn’t have that “calling” to preach. It was finally liberating to realize to that the call to preach isn’t something that is hereditary, it is something that God does and there was nothing wrong with me. It is true that many of the preacher’s kids I grew up with in the church became preachers themselves. Growing up in that environment can prepare you for it but it isn’t like growing up with your father being a plumber or doctor.

There is a lot that goes on with being called to preach. It is much more than standing up behind a pulpit and giving a sermon. The call to preach goes much deeper after delivering the sermon.

Oh, I tried it. There was a time in my life when I was floundering and didn’t know which direction I should go so I tried to do the preaching but it just didn’t come natural for me. I tried to emulate what I had known. I studied, prayed and tried to get direction from God. I came from a Pentecostal background so doing the preaching thing and all that goes with that just didn’t feel right for me. I fell flat. I feel bad for people in the congregation who had to endure the torture of me attempting to preach. I also never grasped the part with speaking in tongues. I believe in the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe that’s all He’s about.

I have to give my dad credit. He dad never pressured me to follow in his footsteps. He never wanted me to be a preacher. I asked him about this again while he was on his deathbed. He assured me that it never bothered him that I never became a preacher like him. It certainly wasn’t the glamorous life some people think when they watch the TV evangelists. My dad never had a multi-million dollar ministry. He never even had a “big” church in our cultish denomination. There were some times that my dad had to work a second job just to be able to support us and the church. I suppose the reason God never called me to preach was that I was jaded negatively toward the ministry. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I just never developed the personality for being a preacher.

The story of how my dad was “called to preach” was pretty bizarre in itself.

When my dad was in his 20s, felt the call to preach but he was hesitant. My mother had grown up as a preacher’s kid and did NOT want to be a preacher’s wife. Dad said that He prayed that God would use my mother as a sign of confirmation that God was calling him to preach. One night in a church service he said that the Holy Ghost moved and people started speaking in tongues (remember this is the Pentecostal stuff going on). My mother started speaking in tongues and somehow gave Dad confirmation. She had this thing when she was “in the spirit” that she would speak in some kind of tongues and walk to the Bible and turn it to some passage and point it out or give a word or two in English. I’m not clear what exactly happened but whatever she did while under the Pentecostal influence of the Holy Ghost she provided the confirmation that he needed. My dad accepted the call to preach and would proceed to minister to churches in Georgia and North Carolina for the next 40 years. Although my mother aided in the call, she was miserable being a preacher’s wife.

As I said earlier, I had a time of seeking direction about the call to preach and tried to force the issue. The calling to preach never came. I wasn’t a failure. The obvious answer was that preaching was not God’s purpose for me. God has used me in a different way. Mostly through writing. There are times I feel inspired and the words flow through me. I am sure that’s how it feels for preachers. Unfortunately I don’t allow myself enough opportunities to become inspired to “write” a sermon or “preach” through my writing. Ministry comes in many different ways. Standing behind a pulpit or preaching loud or speaking in tongues isn’t me.

You have to have the heart for being a preacher. I know a few who do and they do it because they love God and love people. They don’t do it to get reach or to “have a ministry”. I immediately think of my friend Jay when I write this. He is a pastor of a small church in Georgia and he loves the people there. He has the perfect personality for it.

It is challenging to have that heart for people because people can be difficult. I remember when I used to greet people as they arrived for church, some would have the spirit of the devil on them when they walked in the door. One fussed at me because something was wrong with the carpet, another complained to me about the pastor and another was not happy that I didn’t start the church service on time because they HAD to leave a 12 o’clock.

I stopped being a greeter.

So, you see that the calling to preach requires a lot more after you step down from the pulpit.

If you think you are being called to preach, you’d better be sure about it. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. You’d better have nerves of steel and not easily be offended because I guarantee that you will have plenty of opportunities to be offended.

No, I have never become a preacher but that doesn’t make me any less useful to God. God needs more people who are just good ambassadors for Him in whatever they do. There are too many so-called Christians out there who are embarrassing God. It would serve Him much better to have good people living in the world than more people preaching on a stage.

Don’t Fall When Ministers Fall

People fail. It happens.

When a minister that you listen to falls into sin, it is disappointing. A punch in the spiritual gut. If you aren’t careful, it can shake your faith too.

A few days ago I learned that a popular minister confessed to acting inappropriately to his female employees. I was shocked. I still am. I enjoyed listening to his teaching – not so much his preaching – and I even went on a tour of Israel with him (along with 349 other people). I have to admit that the report of his fall threw me a bit.

I should know better. I have been disappointed by many ministers in my lifetime.

It’s a miracle that I have continued to be a believer at all. From having a father that was a minister who once told me his members were more important than me to my last pastor who kept looking at his watch when I needed someone to talk to. This latest disappointment reinforces my feelings about church and the ministry. I don’t foresee that I will even return to a church.

Again I have to remind myself that it is more important to follow God than to follow men. These ministers are not substitutes for a personal relationship with God. They aren’t God. They are human and humans fail. It’s just that we hold ministers at a higher level of expectations.

So what is a believer supposed to do when a minister falls? For me, I am removing this minister from my lists of podcasts and I won’t listen to their teachings in the future. It is important to keep focused and maintain my own relationship with God. I know what I am supposed to do and I need to continue to do it.

Yes, I know we are supposed to forgive and we know that God does forgive but we have to be honest that things won’t ever be the same. This minister is now on a “sabbatical” which means he will return when all of this dies down. He will ask a tearful forgiveness and continue his multi-million dollar business in ministry.

When a minister falls into sin and disappoints us, we don’t need to go down with them. What it should do is remind us to keep the faith and work on our own weaknesses. We all have something that wants to bring us down. I have been disappointed by ministers and the church way too many times to let this bring me down.

If I could tell you anything about this it would be that if you like a minister, you need to be very cautious and tie your faith into that preacher or church. It’s okay to like preachers and have your favorites but you’d better be vigilant. Put your faith in God, not man.

Fallen ministers usually trip up in one of three ways: sexual temptation, greed or pride. These things aren’t just limited to ministers but we all must be conscious of them as well but when these things trip up spiritual leaders, it really takes the wind out of us.

Don’t focus on the preacher or the church! It’s about God. Talk to Him for yourself. Just because a minister has a ministry on YouTube or Television doesn’t mean they are right. Just because they promise “blessings” if you will “sow a seed” into their ministry doesn’t mean it will happen. Don’t fall for it.

If you ever listen to someone, make sure you have your brain turned on and alert for those keys words “I believe” and “sowing a seed”. If you are not strong in your faith, you could fall for whatever version of Jesus they are selling.

Many years ago, I drove over a hundred miles a few times to attend a dynamic church in Atlanta, Georgia. The preacher had a TV ministry and it was an amazing experience. Years later it came out that he was having inappropriate relationships with women in the church and a DNA test revealed that his nephew was – in fact – his biological son. When all this came out I wondered if all of what I had seen and heard had been a lie. A show. Playing church.

If there’s one thing about this that I have seen is that if a minister is sinning in secret that God will eventually reveal it. He’s not going to put up with that crap.

Keep the faith. Don’t follow your faith in someone else.

Why I Left The Church (Part 1 of 3)

left_churchFor the first 46 years of my life, church was my life.  I rarely missed a Sunday.  For most of my early years it was a Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night routine for me.  Church attendance, in my mind, was equal to having a relationship with God.  I never remember a time when I rebelled against going to church.  It was ingrained into my being.  There was no other option – at least for my first 18 years.  Then when I left home it had been instilled so much in me that I was afraid to miss.

Let me just tell you in the beginning of this series that I do not miss the church.  I’m sure that to my friends who are still in the church that my admission will shock them.  It is not meant to be a slam or criticism to them or people who still go to church.  Each person is different and this is my story.  It isn’t meant to be a blanket judgment for all only the reality for me to share with you.


My father was “called to preach” when I was just learning to walk.  He asked for God a sign and he apparently got one when God worked through my mother to call him into the ministry.   You see, my mother had grown up as a preacher’s kid herself.  She told the story many times that she had no desire whatsoever to marry a preacher yet that’s exactly what happened.  My father was appointed to his first church in Valdosta, Georgia in 1967.  For the next 15 years he would be my pastor.  From Valdosta to Moultrie to Temple to Homeland to Axson to Villa Rica and then Savannah was the journey I took with them.  I saw the good, the bad and the very ugly about the church.  I am not happy with a lot of things I experienced and witnessed growing up in the church.  Many people naturally assumed that I would follow my father and my grandfather into the ministry of being a pastor.  I did not and, although I tested the waters, it was never meant to be for me.

When you grow up as a preacher’s kid, there are expectations placed upon you that can be overwhelming.  Everyone watches what you say and do.  When you don’t meet those expectations there are people more than willing to let you know how you have disappointed them.  The expectations are the hardest part of my life in the church.  Your life is in meeting those expectations and not disappointing people.  It doesn’t matter if they disappoint you or not.  I spent a majority of my life working to please others.  That’s how I was raised and that’s how my brain was wired for all those years.

I will get into the church in Part 2 of this series.  I will say that it was a cult in spite of those who would object to such a description of the church.  I will lay it out for you next week.   Since I left the church I had to unlearn many of the erroneous things I was thought.  I really had to spend a lot of time sorting through it all and figure out what was true and what was not true about God.

Growing up in the church was not about the fear of God but more of the fear of disappointing everyone which was the same of disappointing God.  There was a culture of unhealthy fear being in the church.

When I left home for the United States Air Force, many people told me that I would give into the temptations to alcohol and other sinful things that was assumed that people in the military do.  Contrary to those assumptions, I never had any of those desires.  I wasn’t raised with it so it wasn’t something I desired to do.  Was I perfect?  Heck no.  I had my issues but I was too afraid to disappoint my parents or people in the church.  I was expected to keep the teachings and everything about the church.

I tried my best to make it work.  I tried to “drink the Koolaid” as they say.  You know, one thing that I absolutely could never understand was the whole thing about speaking in tongues.  Yeah, I know the look most of you have right now.  If you are in the church and knew me you’re probably shocked.  Those of you not in the church probably have a different look.  Let me tell you that I never got it.  I never could grasp it.  Others around me did and spoke in tongues frequently.  I don’t know.  I won’t say it’s fake but I sure saw a lot of misuse in that function of the spirit.  People would use that “gift” to manipulate things in the church.  I just missed it somehow.  It’s not that I didn’t try.  I tried many times to speak in tongues and read books, listened to tapes and sermons on the subject but it just simply never clicked for me.  Honestly, I still don’t get it.

Most of my life in the church I tried to fit in.  I never did.  I taught Sunday School, Bible Study, worked in Youth Camps, worked with Youth in the church and tried to preach but never felt my fit.  The only place I have ever felt my fit in the church was in writing and the church didn’t even birth that in me.  Working as a sports writer at a newspaper got me on that path.   The last job I really had was as the media minster which was where I worked the computer and audio for church services.  I didn’t even fill like that was my fit either.  In fact,  one year I worked in a men’s retreat with the media and one guy comes up to me and fusses me out about not having a tape ready for purchase yet later that night he was standing up in front of the congregation crying and talking about reaching out to people.  Really?   Yeah, that was much of my impression of the church.  Hypocrisy everywhere.  Of course, where else should hypocrites be?  Of course the biggest hypocrite was me.  In fact, I penned this writing during my last year with the church:

Welcome to Hypocrite City, Population: Me.
I am the chiefest of all hypocrites.
None can do it better than me.
I am a pro at the “church game”.
Just answer “fine” to all questions.
No one cares otherwise.
Don’t believe me? Try another answer.
They don’t know how to respond
Or they try a religious cliché
“Keep looking up”
“I’m praying for you”
etc, etc. etc.
Nothing of substance – just words.
Words are empty without actions.
That’s why it’s best to answer: “fine”
No one wants to hear me whine.
The church is a joke
Christ isn’t laughing
I have proof of what I say
No calls or emails sent my way
No encouragement or even one of those clichés
Just nothing
Tomorrow is Sunday, and then will I exist to them
Well, until next Sunday that is.
As long as I play my role and do my deeds
I don’t want to hear it
I want to feel it
I don’t feel it.

Maybe saying the church has too many hypocrites is the reason you think I left the church.  No, not necessarily.  It was just something I came to expect in the church.  I had my fill of people who would be totally ugly and later speak in tongues in the Holy Ghost.  Yeah, that still makes me sick to my stomach.  Growing up with my father being a preacher whenever we would move to another church the first church member to tell us about all the problems with the church would be the very one that would cause the most problems.  If expectations were on me then I had expectations to be suspicious of the motives of others which is one thing I have had to work on a lot since leaving the church.

Yes, there are a lot of negative things from my experience with the church but that wasn’t the overriding thing that caused me to leave the church.  Since leaving the church, I had to pick the good parts from the bad.  I left the church but I did not leave my relationship with God.  The honest truth is that my relationship with God is better now than it was in all those years in the church.

I left the church but I did not leave my relationship with God.


I know preachers will quote that scripture about not forsaking the assembling yourself with others. (Hebrews 10:25)  I know it well.  The reason they will say that is because the church is their lives and, well, they need people and their finances so they will be able to continue in the ministry.  I’m not saying they are in it for the money because I know some good people who are in it and they are working jobs to support themselves and pastoring their churches.  They are not all about the money but it is their livelihood so of course they want to encourage people to come to church.

Let me say that for many people it is important to attend church and be involved in church.  I won’t tell you that I will never attend or be a part of another church.  I don’t know that for sure and I would never say never.  I just know that at this time in my life I am doing better without it after all the years of expectations and hypocrisy.  I would never discourage anyone from attending church.  I have to be careful not to be critical of people who do.  I often catch myself in a mid-eye roll when someone says they belong to a church.

So is it easy to keep up a relationship with God without church.  No it isn’t easy at all.  It’s honestly a lot of work and there is a lot of self-discipline involved.  When I was in the church, I really only had to be “on” a few hours a week.  Two hours on Sunday and maybe an hour for Bible Study.  I have discovered that without church I have to work to keep my relationship in the right place.  For me, it works to listen to at least one Podcast, listen or read the Bible at least every other day and constantly praying as well as spending time being quiet before God.  Nothing super spiritual or anything but doing what works for me.

I eventually came to a crossroads in my life and chose another path of which I am on now.  I made a choice to live the life that I could live.  It does not involve the church.

NEXT WEEK:  The Church I Left