I’ve been in fulltime Christian ministry for over 30 years. I’ve had some good times. I’ve also had some moments when I stood there looking like a complete idiot. I’ve done some dumb things. I will bet that you have as well, if you are willing to admit it.
So, tell us your story. What was your most embarrassing moment as a minister?
1) It has to be true.
2) It has to be embarrassing to you. Don’t tell stories that will embarrass another. This is confession time, guys.
3) Try to maintain some small measure of good taste.
I will start the ball rolling with two stories – hard to pick one over the other. Both actually could be entitled “Sermon Illustrations Gone Bad.” Strangely, both were making essentially the same point.
First Embarrassing Story
I was speaking of the importance of being grounded in the Word of God. I was a SCUBA diver in college and used to dive a place called “The Wrecks” off Palm Beach. On my first dive there, my ears would not equalize (pressure). My dive instructor came over and yanked my mask off. I put it back on and cleared it. (This is the crux of the story – to clear a mask underwater, you put it on, put pressure on the top of the mask, and blow through your nose. The air from the nose blows the water out of the mask and clears it.) When I cleared the mask, my ears equalized and I headed to the ocean floor (60 feet down). The whole time I was down there, my mask was filling with this thick green fluid which looked like algae. I couldn’t figure out how algae was getting in my mask, but I kept clearing my mask and it kept refilling. My air was gone, so I headed to the surface. As I got about 10 feet from the surface, I remembered that the first color you lose in water is red. I had a nosebleed the whole time I was down there. In shark infested waters I was putting blood out there the whole time.
THE POINT: When we are not grounded in the Word, we are shark bait, like I was that day.
THE PROBLEM: When I tried to illustrate the process of cleaning the mask to the church, I forgot I had a cold. I pushed on the top of my imaginary mask and I blew through my nose to clear the mask – and I blew snot all over my face.
THE LESSON: When you blow snot all over your face in front of your congregation, your sermon is over. Yes, you can keep preaching, but your ability to communicate anything significant to them is over.
Second Embarrassing Story
We had a 15 passenger van which we took on vacations to Florida. Good times. But on one of those trips, we evidently got some gasoline with water in it – it was not helpful to the operation of “Sherman” – our tank. Made the thing run really awful.
THE POINT: We must be careful to fuel ourselves well. Christians only function well when they get the good fuel – the Word of God.
THE PROBLEM: Here is what I said. “You cannot live well as a Christian if you are not fueling yourself regularly with the deep things of the Word of God. The problem with a lot of you folks is that you are full of bad gas.” Yes, I said it. Unfortunately, my congregation was not of the forgiving sort that would simply ignore my faux pas and move on.
THE LESSON: Don’t accuse your people of being offensively flatulent!