The preacher had a deep respect for Pastor Adam. As a pastor himself, he admired Adam’s life and ministry from afar. Adam planted and pastors one of America’s fastest growing churches, which was now planting new churches, blessing cities, and bearing tremendous and fruitful success. The preacher had dreams for the church he pastored to reach similar outcomes. He wanted to see his church grow, cultivate life transformation, and bless their community, even the world.
The preacher was working tirelessly and devotedly to accomplish these things, and he wanted to know if he was on the right track. He wanted to know how effective he truly was regarding these endeavors and what he needed to do to come closer to realizing these dreams. The preacher came upon an interview with Pastor Adam on a recently released podcast. The preacher placed earbuds into his ears and began to listen on his way to work one day.
The preacher focused intently on Adam’s words. He was struck by Adam’s heartfelt responses, which conveyed profound wonder and humility. His spirit was refreshing to the preacher – the sense in which he expressed so easily the depth of God’s love and his love for people. His transparency and honesty was unlike many colleagues he knew. Much of what Pastor Adam said the preacher knew – tips and hacks about working with volunteers and creating a culture where vision can blossom and grow. It encouraged the preacher to find similarities between he and Pastor Adam, and he felt good about himself. The preacher was pleased, because it did not seem he would have to change much.
Toward the end of the interview, however, Pastor Adam was asked about the amount of times he gives up the pulpit of his church to other preachers, which is quite a few in a given year. This created conflict within the preacher. You see, the preacher loved preaching, and he was good at it – or so he had often been told. He did not like the idea of constantly cycling in different preachers. He thought to allow two or three times a year for guest preachers was a good thing, but anything beyond that is unacceptable, quite frankly. The church needed his voice, his wisdom, his skill in explicating the scriptures. It was, after all, the preacher’s call – to preach.
And as if Adam knew exactly who was listening, with that same Christ-like love and compassion, he told the interviewer of a prayer he prays when guests preach at his church. Every morning on these Sundays, Adam prays the guests would completely and utterly out-preach him. He prays they would paint a picture of the Father’s love and the gospel that is so breath-taking and compelling that the congregation would long for the guest to come back another week and share more.
The self-sacrifice of Pastor Adam’s simple prayer was too much for the preacher to bear. He realized that for the first time there was a prayer he actually could not pray and a cross on which he was unwilling to die. The cost was too high for the preacher.
The interview came to a close, and the preacher took his ear buds out of his ears. The preacher walked into the doors of the church sad, because he had always been told he was a fine preacher.