Pastoral slips of the tongue
as I began to preach. As it was just a couple of days before Valentine’s day, I had a message on marriage prepared, one titled “With This Ring.”
One of my points was designed to drive home the fact that, when a man and woman marry, their identity forever changes. Now they are so-and-so, the wife/husband of so-and-so. I pointed out different couples by name, and told them so.
It was after the entire assembled crowd burst into hysterical laughter that my mistake dawned on me: “You are Ben, the wife of...”
My church members never... ever... let me slide by with something like that. Could they simply smile and think “I know what he meant,” and then tell me of my mistake later? Oh no, not my people. They absolutely howled with laughter. Some were in tears.
Keep in mind, it would not have been half as funny if I had not said it of the most monstrous man in my church. He has trouble finding a good gym to work out in, because most of them do not have weights heavy enough for him. This is the man to whom I entrust my life when I am trying to lift ever heavier amounts on the bench press. And I just called him a wife. Not just to our crowd; we broadcast all our services live on Facebook as well.
Sometimes the words of an apology are hard to come by. Not this time; groveling for my life after service came pretty easily, actually.
Thankfully my friend is a very forgiving guy with a great sense of humor.
The more we speak, the greater statistical chance we have to get something wrong. A wise man named Solomon once wrote of this fact. He said in Proverbs 10:19, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
A pastor must take to the pulpit each week and speak. But as a general rule of life, listening should take up more of our time than speaking does, no matter who we are. No president, parent, spouse, friend, reporter, no anyone should think first of speaking and relegate listening to second class status.
The old maxim is still true: God gave us two ears and only one mouth to remind us that listening is twice as important as speaking.
And let me close by saying I am always honored to listen to you. Feel free to email me at any time with prayer requests, questions, or even gleefully sarcastic humor over my latest Wagnerism.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and author of several books, including a kid’s fiction book about the Battle of Chickamauga, “Broken Brotherhood.” He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evangelist and author