Are You a Preacher or Motivational Speaker?

Interestingly, some preaching that is considered great by many is nothing more than a motivational speech. It might be true, it might even be helpful. It may help you succeed at work. But too often all one has done is changed the title from the latest pop-psychologist’s seminar from “how to succeed” to “hot to fulfill God’s purpose” where God’s purpose is defined as “succeeding in this life.”

It is almost rampant in some circles. In fact some see this as the epitome of “relevant” preaching. The person comes and learns a skill or a mindset that will help them finally break the boundaries that keep them from that promotion. Maybe others finally decide to go back to school or change their career. Perhaps others find ways to become better planners and thus are more effective in their financial life. And then the preacher sits down. Sometimes the people shout other times they sit there contemplating the message, but in too many cases what is missing greatly outweighs the benefits of these messages.

The Cross is Missing

The first thing that is missing from this kind of preaching is the cross. Sometimes the preacher may tack it on at the end, but even in those cases the cross is reduced from the pinnacle of God’s work on behalf of humanity to simply a mechanism to help me do better at work. The cross both Jesus’ and ours is totally missing. The idea of our sin causing the death of Christ in some way is totally absent from this message. The idea that we are to take up our cross and follow is also absent.

In short, the Gospel is missing from many of these presentations and thus no matter how eloquent or well visited, this kind of preaching is missing the real power that comes from preaching “Christ and Him Crucified.”

The Coming Kingdom is Missing

In many of these sermons, the idea of God’s coming kingdom is totally missing. Whether it be how we are to prepare for the coming kingdom, or whether it be how the coming kingdom is different from the current “kingdoms,” this aspect of true preaching is often missing from the “motivational preaching” sermons.

If you are not preaching the cross and the coming kingdom, then one must ask onesself, what are the eternal consequences of my present preaching? If someone comes to your church after hearing about the cancer diagnoses, what does your sermon about being a success have to do with that one? If someone is in the midst of despair and needs to hear a word about the coming kingdom where righteousness reigns, what does your message that mistakes American middle class values for the Gospel have to say to them?

Conclusion

People can get motivational speeches in any number of places, but when they come to church they have come to hear a preacher. There is a time and place for the motivational speech, but if you as a preacher use up all of your time being simply another place, then you have not done your duty. For a preacher to degenerate into a facsimile of Oprah Winfrey or Tony Robins is to step down from the height of speaking God’s words to humanity, to speaking good advice gleaned from the best human thinkers.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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2 comments on “Are You a Preacher or Motivational Speaker?
  1. Stephen Irie says:

    The reason why the cross is missing is because Jesus has done away with the cross. The main reason Jesus came was to show you who you are in him. A motivational preacher is the person who is building the faith of other to the standard of ot making them understand what they possess, to see what Jesus has done on the cross for them and they do not know. That’s what motivational preaching is about , Paul was one of them when He said ‘He can do all’, Peter was onr of them when He said ‘You are healed by His strippes, Jesus was and is one of them when He said when you pray believe you have received it and you will see manifest. DO NOT JUDGE MOTIVATIONAL PREACHERS, THEY ARE SERVANT OF GOD. Do you prefer to be encourage or to be judged by mem?

  2. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Jesus Said in Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

    The Apostle Paul wrote: Galatians 2:20: ” have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

    In addition, I did not judge motivational speakers…I just said that Preachers are not motivational preachers….

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
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