The other day I overheard a congregation between two seminary students. One was a black preacher and the other was a white one. The white preacher was kind of down in that he was beginning to realize that he was not going to be able to preach like a Black preacher. The Black preacher was seeking to encourage the white preacher to improve but be himself. Never try to be someone else.
As I think about Miles Davis I find someone who was simply himself. There are stories of him turning his back on the audience while playing. Definitely breaking the rules, but he was himself. He didn’t care that at every stage of his growth that there were people there complaining about his musical direction. He simply was himself.
As I think about my own preaching, I begin to realize that I am best when I am authentically myself. Not when I am trying to be Jeremiah Wright or Gardner Taylor or even my teacher Brad Braxton. The key is not to become someone else, but the key is to find out who you are and be the best you that you can be. Great preaching has been called truth through the preacher’s personality.
This is not a call to ignore basic principles of homiletics. It is just a call to make any principle that you use your own. While I would tell people not to turn their back on the congregation while preaching, I have definitely seen examples of other preachers doing that very thing and it being an effective witness for the Gospel. Why did it work? They were being true to their self.
Miles Davis reminds us to be ourselves if we are going to preach the gospel the way it should be preached.
See these Books:
- Free at Last?: The Gospel in African-American Experience by Carl Ellis
- Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch
- Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
- Jazz of Preaching by Kirk Byron Jones
- Preaching and Teaching with Imagination by Warren Wiersby
See these Websites