I recently read a blog by Andrew Wilson in which he asked the intriguing question:
“What is the most attractive quality in a leader?”
I wonder how you would answer that question.
His answer was,
“The most attractive quality in a leader, I find, is when you discover that the inside is bigger than the outside.”
This attractive quality is remarkably like the experience of Dr Who’s Tardis!
I love to observe the ‘wow’ factor in Dr Who programmes when new visitors step into the Tardis for the first time. They are wide-eyed in disbelief that what looks like an old blue wooden police box from the middle of the 20th Century becomes a spacious high-tech time machine.
I have been thinking about what how this attractive quality is important for preachers too.
It reminded me of an interview I conducted with the legendary homiletics guru Fred Craddock. Fred was a tiny, balding man who would not turn eyes in any crowd, but when he preached every eye was turned. His penetrating, well-crafted sermons were full of sparkling insight into the biblical text and bristling with brilliantly told home-spun stories. Fred’s sermons are like an intricately woven tapestry, that draws together all the little threads to create a stunning picture.
I asked Fred about his ability to produce such creative sermons. His answer was fascinating,
“I have a large interior world.”
Yes, that is it, Fred was bigger on the inside that he was on the outside.
He always delivered more than might be expected from first impressions.
By contrast, many preachers look and sound impressive but, while they promise much, they end up being disappointing. Their sermons go up like a rocket but come down like a stick!
How does a preacher seek to develop a life that is bigger on the inside than on the outside?
Paul writes to Timothy, his young apprentice, about the importance of developing his inner life,
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:7–8)
Preachers can miss the point by wasting time on the wrong priorities.
Controversial preaching will draw a crowd but seldom feeds the soul.
Muscular Christianity might have well-developed biceps but falls far short on the development of a healthy inner life.
This attractive quality of leadership also goes to the heart of our Christian faith:
The tiny baby in the manger who is to change the world.
The young preacher from despised Nazareth, who astounds the crowds with his authoritative teaching.
The crushed man upon the cross, looking for all the world like a foolish, weak failure, is the expression of the true wisdom and power of God.
With Jesus there is always more than we can expect. Jesus is always bigger on the inside than he appears to be on the outside.
What about you?
Photo Dante Candal on unsplash