I have been thinking a great deal about preaching and teaching lately. You have probably noticed this in my last weeks blog posts. Well, I am going to add one more to the list of posts on this topic. This idea hit me while praying before my last sermon. Literally every time I speak I take the time to pray in private before I take the stage. I will not tell you all of that prayer, but I am going to tell you one thing that I say repeatedly.
When I was in my first year of full-time preaching ministry I expressed to a preacher who was a bit older than me my feelings of inadequacy when I preach. You see I know my sins intimately. I know my moments where my faith lapses and I do some ungodly action every week. I know my shortcomings, my failures, the holes in my faith, the questions that haunt my soul and my feelings of faithlessness. Surprisingly he identified with my feelings and thoughts. He struggled with the same things. His life was sometimes lived contrary to his preaching. First, this was a shock to me. I thought he had it altogether. Second, he explained to about the funnel.
He said, “I view my life like a dirty old funnel.” He explained to me that a funnel has only one purpose. It is used to transfer an important item, like gas, to a place where it is needed. A funnel can be greasy on the outside, stained with the oils of use, but that does not make it useless. In fact, the value has nothing to do with how it looks as long as it serves its function. Then he took out a piece of paper and drew a funnel on it and he told me that he pictured it like this. God is full of goodness and truth and my job in preaching is to take those enormous ideas and funnel them into the lives of people. It doesn’t matter if I am stained as long as I get the message from God and get it to the people. He illustrated his point with several Bible characters like Abraham who lied about his wife, Moses who got angry, David who committed adultery and Paul who was a murderer.
His talk made sense to me. I am not the point of preaching, I am simply a dirty funnel God uses to convey his message. So every time I speak I literally pray the words, “God use me like that dirty funnel.” I have been saying that prayer for almost 20 years now and I am amazed each week that God continues to use me in spite of myself. It is amazing what God can do when we open up our life to Him no matter where we have been or what we have done. Be the funnel.