In 2 Timothy 1:5-14, Paul exhorts Timothy to be bold in the gospel and guard this good deposit entrusted to him. In the middle of this passage it is as if Paul sets before his protégé two options.
One option is to fan into flame the gift given to him even if it leads to suffering. The other option is to let this gift grow cold and just kind of get by. Such an option will lead to less outward suffering but I’m convinced that it’d wreak havoc on Timothy’s soul. You can’t hold such a fire within your bones.
As I thought through Paul’s exhortation to Timothy I applied his exhortation to my own life—particularly in preaching. There is a way that I can preach that will keep me employed, keep most people happy, but will do damage to our church and ultimately to my soul.
There is a difference between preaching like a chicken and preaching with the boldness that Christ has purchased for us.
Now I imagine that some will assume that preaching with boldness means getting red-faced and passionately telling people their opinion. As if the difference between bold preaching and timid preaching is found in the amount of sweat beads dropped and blood vessels broken. Just stirring people up because you “tell it like it is” isn’t what Paul has in mind here. He has in mind the boldness of preaching the gospel even if it might lead to your suffering.
For me to really get this down in my soul I came up with 8 ways that if I wanted to I could preach like a chicken. Here they are, I preach like a chicken when:
- I don’t give time or room for the text to do work on my own heart first.
- I try to preach someone else’s sermon as someone other than myself.
- I avoid texts that challenge my own pet theology.
- I avoid texts that could be comforting but challenge the congregations pet theologies.
- I grey-up the black and white.
- I preach how the passage makes me feel rather than preaching the true emotion of the passage.
- I avoid making down to earth application and I settle for keeping it in the clouds so as not to step on any toes.
- I take the exhortations out and only preach the indicatives.
- I leave sinners in my hands or in their own hands instead of entrusting them to Jesus.