The kind of preaching that changes lives is from the heart to the heart, not from the head to the head. Lives are changed as we speak from our deepest pain and suffering.
Socrates was the first to explain communication in three dimensions. He talked about ethos as the speaker’s character, pathos as the speaker’s compassion, and logos as the speaker’s content. We tend to think most about the content of a sermon, but the people to whom we are speaking perceive all three, and ethos is really the most vital of all three dimensions.
Ethos involves your credentials or credibility as a speaker. Socrates was wise enough to conclude that who you are is far more important than what you say when you are speaking. In fact, your character determines what you say and do.
Almost any communications book will tell you that if you want an audience to listen to you, you must be attractive to them—not so much physically (thank God) but attractive in your character. And the most attractive quality of a speaker is authenticity.
In other words, if you want to preach effectively, be you. You’re the only you God ever made. After He finished designing you, He broke the mold. Every person, every leader, every pastor is unique, which makes authenticity a highly important value.
When you are authentic, people feel that they can trust you. And the more people trust you, the greater will be your potential for life-changing communication. Credibility is a preacher’s most important asset.
So, how do you increase your credibility? The most important way is by being honest about your weaknesses.
The more honest you are about your weaknesses, the more you are perceived as being real.
The more real you are, the more credibility you have.
The more credibility you have, the more people are willing to listen to you and follow your leadership, and the more you will see lives changed.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
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