When I preach I want a pulpit. I want to hide behind the Word of God. I have nothing to say but God has much to say. Maybe the casual observer misses it, but even my stage manner is centers around the pulpit. When I read from the Bible, I stand behind the pulpit. When I explain the meaning of the text, I’m at the pulpit. I do this not because I’m tied to my notes but because I want to be tied to the Bible. When I offer an illustration or a little pastoral “aside” I step away from the pulpit to illustrate the fact that these thoughts are coming from the fallible speaker not the infallible Word. When I’m ready to talk about the next phrase or thought in the text, I go back to the pulpit. The key in all this is not to say that I can’t preach while holding my Bible in hand, but that I stand entirely in the shadow of God’s mighty Word. I’m anchored, spiritually and physically, to the Word.

Pastors and preachers, don’t give us your opinions. Don’t give us a pep talk. Don’t give us a lecture about 10 ways to improve our parenthood. Give us the life-changing and life-sustaining Word of God. And, give us a pulpit to remind us that the Word of God takes center stage in our worship.

Peter Beck (Ph.D. Southern Seminary) is assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina and a former Senior Pastor. Dr. Beck also writes at his Website, Living to God.

Original publication date: February 16, 2009