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Practice What You Preach

Sounds good, right? Many don’t mind saying “practice what you preach,” but most don’t like hearing it. Many of you are licensed preachers. All of you are preachers. I hope each of you will read this short post in its entirety.

Most preaching does not take place behind a pulpit. Preaching takes place in the home, on the job, in the car, and a myriad of other sites. Preachers, parents, husbands, wives, etc., all preach.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the word “preaching.” Here is what I found: “a preacher is a person who preaches.” Interesting. Who would have known? I was always taught not to use a word in the definition of said word. But here we are.

So, I dug deeper. I did a word study on the word “preach.”

Preach defined

The word “preach” is a verb. The definition is:

  • Publicly proclaim or teach (a religious message or belief);
  • Earnestly advocate (a belief or course of action);
  • Give moral advice to someone in an annoying or pompously self-righteous way.

The Thesaurus gives words interchangeable with the word “preach.” They are: sermonize, address, speak, proclaim, teach, spread, propagate, expound, advocate, recommend, advise, urge, counsel, moralize, sermonize, pontificate, lecture, and harangue.

I think it’s safe to say we all preach!

Practice defined

We have seen the definition of the last word of the title. Now let’s look at the first word. As used in our title, the word ‘practice’ is a verb, so let’s proceed with that understanding in mind.

The word ‘practice’ defined as a verb:

  • Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency;
  • Carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly;
  • Observe the teaching and rules of (a particular religion).

At the risk of losing your attention but for the sake of consistency, here is what the Thesaurus lists in regards to the word, “practice:” rehearse, run through, go over, work on, polish, perfect, train, prepare, carry out, perform, observe, and work at.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Practice what you preach” doesn’t it?

When I was younger, I would say the words, “Practice what you preach.” Now, I think them. Mostly about myself.

As someone who works on the staff of a clinical pastoral counseling practice (DayStar Ministries), I am honored to work with a variety of people. I have watched God rearrange situations and make something good out of something terrible. I have seen God take what is wrong and make it right. Over and over again. My confidence in God and God in me grows with each passing day.

Yes, I Pontificate

There are times during a session that I will find myself pontificating (preaching). During some of these moments of counsel, while I am giving good advice, I find myself thinking: “Make a note of what you just said. You should ‘observe’ what you are ‘earnestly advocating.'” Well, usually I’m thinking, “That’s good advice. You need to do that yourself.”

I wish I were the only one in that boat. It would make life easier.

I have watched preachers perform behaviors they would never condone with those in their congregation, be it at church, home or wherever. I have heard preachers preach forgiveness till the sweat and tears flowed, then withhold forgiveness themselves, and have seen preachers preach love and then show anything but love. You could add to these examples I’m sure.

Our motto should not be, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But sometimes it is.

Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Who am I to speak thusly?

I’m a preacher.

Just like you.

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