John Stott to Pastors: We Cannot Hide What We Are

John Stott to Pastors: We Cannot Hide What We Are

The late John Stott writes,

The sincerity of a preacher has two aspects: he means what he says when in the pulpit and he practises what he preaches when out of it. In fact, these things belong inevitably together since, as Richard Baxter put it, "he that means as he speaks will surely do as he speaks." . . .

Paul told Timothy and Titus to be models of Christian behaviour. Peter similarly instructed the elders, instead of domineering, to be "examples of the flock." The emphasis is plain. Communication is by symbol as well as speech. For "a man cannot only preach, he must also live. And the life that he lives, with all its little peculiarities, is one of two things: either it emasculates his preaching or it gives it flesh and blood."

We cannot hide what we are. Indeed, what we are speaks as plainly as what we say. When these two voices blend, the impact of the message is doubled. But when they contradict each other, even the positive witness of the one is negatived by the other. This was the case with the man Spurgeon describes as a good preacher but a bad Christian. . .

Between Two Worlds, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 262ff., paragraphing mine.

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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.