Call, Ministry

Be Transformed

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and
perfect.
(Romans 12:2)

It was about this time two or maybe three years ago that I went to church on a Sunday afternoon and came home questioning just what God wanted me to do and why I was in a preaching ministry in the first place.

Oh, I knew I could *write* a sermon. But my small voice frustrated me. And my dependence on my text, on my confidence in my writing, worried me.

Truly, truly, I say unto you, I was jealous of my friend, RevFun, and his relaxed style of worship leadership and his noteless preaching and his big voice. Now, logically I know I cannot sound like a man, and I know his style is suited to his congregation and wasn't necessarily to mine, and I know a lot of other things about why I shouldn't have let that bother me so much, but it did.

I'm not sure how we figure out what God wants us to do without at least some reference to the world's standards, but even as I type that, I want to say "no" to it. Can it be true that the only real standard is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect? These are the things that matter to God, but God is not always represented on search committees.

And we can surely say, well, we wouldn't want to go to those churches, anyway. And no one does, but someone has to, mostly.

Sometimes when I speak on the same program as a person with a big voice I feel like I belong on the Island of Misfit Pastors. What is this short little woman with the damaged vocal cord and the wispy voice doing in a pulpit? Could it be possible that this is where God wants me? And if so, how is that good and acceptable and perfect? It might be good OR acceptable OR perfect (less likely), but those "ands" worry me.

Technology helps. By the time I left Main Street Church, I felt like a pretty good preacher. But a few months with less effective sound and I am left wondering if more than a few can hear me, and if that's the case, what's the point?

While I was on vacation, the work began to put in a new sound system at First Parish, and perhaps I'll feel better when it's up and running, but tonight I stood next to my friend Wise Cellist in her sanctuary, and did a two-voice reading with her, and she sounded like, well, she sounded like a cello, played by a master, and I sounded like an E-flat clarinet played by an inexperienced 9th grader. I know how I want things to sound, but they come out sounding too light and not at all authoritative and just weak.

I have better days, I know that's true, but on the whole, I remain wispy. And so I wonder, why does God want this bird to preach when people's ears are tuned to deeper tones?

And I wonder, do I have this all wrong?

Maybe I'm too busy wishing to be conformed and not eager enough to be transformed.

12 thoughts on “Be Transformed”

  1. Songbird: “but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, KJV, because that’s the Bible in the hotel.)(This was also my ordination text.)

  2. No idea what you sound like — probably will never hear you — but be assured that you have a voice — in this blog if no where else. And that voice is pretty darn amazing at times.

  3. Hard to improve on what Diane said! I would only add: your voice is more than your voice, if you know what I mean. your preaching voice includes your experiences, your wisdom, your exegesis, your creativity, your energy, intelligence, imagination and love… and so much more. When I read your sermons, the depth adn breadth of your “voice” blows me away.
    Pax, C.

  4. I have heard your voice and I don’t know what you’re talking about. I wonder if the voice is whispy only in your head?

  5. To tell the truth, Songbird, I’ve never been able to picture you as short or having a small voice. Your online voice is so big, resonant, comforting, and powerful that I always think of you as about 6 feet tall, despite the petite woman in your photos. 😉

  6. Songbird:
    I couldn’t help thinking of 1 Corinthians 1 as I read your post.
    If you feel weak, inadquate, and unqualified for preaching, you are not alone. Even those with strong voices and a presence feel it. If they don’t, they ought to.
    I’ve been a pastor for twenty-four years. I do not feel adequate to the calling even now. But God is more than adequate. God’s power is truly seen only in our weakness.
    God bless you.
    Mark Daniels

  7. Ah, but I *HAVE* heard you preach, and using the crummy interim sound system, too.
    Your confidence in what you have to say peals forth. The scriptures you quoted that day roared like the ocean! Your preaching is in no way wispy.
    Didn’t Moses say, “I am slow of speech and tongue”? and, despite the initial trepidation, still God had things for him to say. A plethora of things.

  8. A booming voice may be easily heard, but the quieter voice, in my experience, is usually the one with the most to say. I hear you.

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