To Teach or Preach?

There is a thin line, (sometimes it’s a fishing line so it appears invisible), which separates preaching from teaching; especially if the topic is your children’s behavior, or religion.  Discussions about God and spirituality may start with the noble intention to teach, but through various hairpin curves and hidden trap doors, evolve mysteriously into full blown, sweat filled, amen-alleluia, God-is-a-coming-soon, sermons. They become the type of interaction where everybody is wet with perspiration – no matter the temperature inside or out.  With all nobility swept aside, a dialogue into your kid’s behavior barely stays a nanosecond in the teaching mode before leaping at warp speed into preaching.  Of course, that is how it should be: they need it.

Each communication method has its own benefits and hindrances; the use of either is not a matter of right vs. wrong, but more a selection of appropriate timing.  Teaching, or coaching as it is called in sports, is a service that is nearly unencumbered as to “when” it is applied; it is always acceptable to teach.  Circumstances and companions will dictate the depth and length of the lesson; which, subject to your role as teacher or student, can range from a moment to seemingly, an eternity.  Yet with all viewpoints included, teaching is mostly about giving.  One person gives their knowledge, experience, or opinion to another – it is meant to be an unselfish act of sharing.  The acceptance of all, or part of the lesson, is completely the responsibility and choice, of the recipient.  I think that is where to “leading a horse to water…” saying came from. 

Preaching, on the other hand, is best when administered in a church or other place of worship.  Preaching is a wonderful and necessary form of communicating God’s plan and personality, that should be presented by someone gifted in the art preaching.  And, those who preach to us about God need to come from a place of authority by virtue of a calling, and specialized training and research. 

My discussion of teaching and preaching stems from a question posed to me by a couple of good friends.  They wanted to know if I intended to use my book and website to, “Teach people about my faith, and how it works in me, or to preach about God.”  A great question that I had not yet asked or answered, until now.  Reflecting upon my web postings, I have subjected my readers to both, often in the same segment; more often though, I tend to preach.

It is not my dream, ambition or right to convert people to my way of thinking; to my view of God. He knows each of us, everything that we are and want to be, so our relationship with Him is special, and cannot be duplicated.  I should not be so selfish as to believe it is my sole responsibility to convert the masses from sinners to saints with a 500 word story on a Monday morning.  That is not my role.  It is my wish (actually, it is a need) to share my thoughts in a way as to make people think about their own direction; about the depth of their relationship with their family and with God.  Then you can make your own decisions, in a time and place that you choose. 

It is very comforting to know what you are supposed to do.  In 2011, I learned that:

  • I need to act like a man of faith.
  • My passion is to write stories about God.
  • My role it to supply a little water to the plant; others will supply sunshine, soil, and nutrients.  I won’t worry about how fast the plant will grow, or how tall it will become, because I know the fate of the plant is in good hands.

I’m not a teacher or a preacher, I’m a little of both; but mostly I aim to be a friend who has thoughts and insights to share, that I hope will improve your day.

Thanks for reading.


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