This discussion of needs, and my friend Martin’s comments, brought to mind one of my favorite stories. Before telling it, I want to preface it by pointing out that there we spend a great deal of time meeting the ‘felt needs’ of people who give big offerings, who sit on boards and executive committees–the older brothers who don’t rejoice when prodigals return.
But I know the person who asked the original question. She is a young adult, a young mother, like many I hear from, whose church consists too often of pharisse’s prayers and preaching to the choir. “We are thankful we have the Truth, and are not as other men and women,” instead of “I struggle to understand and conform to God’s will, and here’s what I’m going through.”
Young adults and people at large don’t need another sermon on vegetarianism, the need to find spiritual meat–food for their souls. And too many churches serve up either pablum or gruel, because “That’s the kind of preaching we had when I was young.”
Anyway, I want to share a story from Jack Hayford, who pastors a church in California, and the author of the song “Majesty.” I heard Jack tell this story myself, and I loved it immediately.
One day an elder came to Hayford and said, “Pastor, some people are uncomfortable because you urge them to lift up their hands when they worship and pray.”
“Well,” Hayford replied, “I don’t urge them to do anything. I do recommend it because it’s scriptural.”
“I have to tell, you, Pastor,” the elder said, sorrowfully, “it really hurts their pride when you say that.”
“Oh!” Hayford said, surprised and shocked. “I never meant to do that. I never want to hurt anyone’s pride.” He paused for moment, and said, “I meant to kill it outright!”
There’s far too much pious posturing and ostentatious humility in our congregations, because people think they need to be regarded as pious and humble. And those are needs to be killed outright.