Every Sunday morning I stand up behind a small wooden podium to tell people about Jesus. Some of them listen politely. Some of them laugh, even when I don’t say anything funny. Some of them fall asleep. Some of them take notes.
The task of delivering a message to a group of people is not one that is unique to my profession.
Parents do it every day.
When someone pulls out in front of us in traffic, gives us the finger and goes on about their way, our reaction preaches a sermon to the watching eyes in the backseat. It may be a sermon filled with tons of new and exciting new words or it may be a sermon about love, forgiveness and patience.
Our response to the increasing horror we see and hear on the news is a powerful sermon as well. It’s main point can be, “We’re all gonna die!” or it can be, “God is in control.”
Parents carry a pulpit with them. And from it, thousands of times a day, we preach a sermon to our kids. Whether the sermon is a good one or a bad one, we can be sure of this one thing.
Our kids aren’t sleeping.
They’re taking notes.
Every year on Father’s Day, I get a book. The same book. It’s an old composition notebook. The first page has scribbling on it followed by a note from my wife. The next page, written a year later, has scribbling that is a bit more defined along with another note from my wife. A few days ago, there were two paragraphs written in the most recent addition to my Father’s Day book. One was from my wife. One was from my son. His scribbles have turned into sentences. And now he’s got a younger brother who’s not too far behind.
When I read their words and admire their pictures, I can see pieces of myself and I am reminded that my kids are taking notes.
I like to talk to the TV. It never accomplishes anything but I do it anyway. A while back I saw a commercial for a handheld video game system. The commercial showed kids playing it in tree houses, on the beach and at internationally known exotic locations. Before thinking, I spoke about the absurdity of the commercial. The kids were sitting in the middle of some of the coolest, funnest places on earth but they were too busy to enjoy them because they were playing a video game.
A few days later my son was talking about that same handheld video game system. I could feel it coming. I was sure that he was going to ask me to buy him one.
I was wrong.
He told me that those games looked like a lot of fun but they also looked like they kept kids from things that are more fun. Things like tree houses. Just like in the commercial.
I preached my sermon.
My son took his notes.
Every parent is a preacher. Just like the preachers we see and hear about in pulpits at churches all around the world, some parents share a message of love and hope. Some lay heavy, legalistic burdens on their hearers and others make empty promises.
We are all preachers.
Some of us deliver our sermons to large crowds while we stand behind wooden podiums.
Others preach their sermons to crowds of two while driving to soccer practice.
Regardless of the size of our congregation or the shape of our pulpit, this much is certain.
Those who are listening to us are taking notes.