The High EQ Preacher (part 6): Do you look friendly?

Please tell me that’s not your preaching face!

I can easily forget to smile when I first address the faith-family. Some of it is due to trying to remember all I’m supposed to say at the beginning. Some of it is due to my serious side and the seriousness of the task at hand on Sunday mornings. But none of that helps accomplish the goal of enjoying a vibrant relationship with a healthy church.

This is the final post summarizing some of the more relevant information gleaned from reading, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Bradberry and Greaves, TalentSmart, 2009). EQ is thought to be the most important indicator of leadership success. And you know that pastoring, preaching, and leading are intertwined, right? And a big part of  a healthy EQ has to do with the kinds of relationships we build with others.

So, when these authors tell us to “smile and laugh more” (p. 114), I had to stop myself and ask whether this was really that important.

The answer is, “Yes.”

Take Chuck Swindoll for an example. I first learned about the importance of smiling and laughing through my limited interaction with him during my years at DTS. His smile and laughing were infectious. And it did not detract from his preaching; it enhanced it because it was genuine Swindoll.

Ask yourself whether your smile and laughter is indicative of who you are as a Christian minister who has the benefit of the joy of the Lord as their strength.

And one final instructional nugget from EQ: “Greet People by Name” (p. 139).

I’m taking that one step further and asking you to consider addressing some of your listeners by name during the sermon. It’s the result of having built a strong relationship with them and realizing that the sermon is the time to address them about them from the Bible.

When you speak their name, watch the level of interaction increase. Often a smile will come to their face (if, as above, you’re smiling at them when you say their name!).

Before Sunday, let’s continue to be high EQ preachers who build strong relationships with God’s people so He receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


P.S. If you have not read anything about EQ, this book is a good place to start. It’s an easy, quick read. You will find much that pertains to your church ministry, including food for thought on how to assess the effectiveness, or lack of, of your leadership.

The High EQ Preacher (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago I completed reading, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves (TalentSmart, San Diego, 2009). My good friend, Andy Bunn, highly recommended it. Andy is near completion of a Ph.D. in leadership studies and the subject of EQ is important.

Sidenote: Andy is the head of Leadership Vistas, a missions agency that trains pastors and church leaders in Africa. If your church is looking for a way to provide excellent training for national pastors who have no training, contact Andy.

I’m glad I read the book. Especially when I read this:

“We’ve tested EQ alongside 33 other important skills and found that it subsumes the majority of them, including time management, decision-making, and communication” (p. 20, emphasis added).

Preaching is communication. Preaching is a form of communication that involves a mixture of ability and spiritual gift. From a human perspective, a preacher’s EQ greatly affects their ability to communicate with others. Everything we do during a sermon happens within the context of relationships we have with our congregants. Our EQ largely determines the success of those relationships.

I’m also glad I took the EQ test. If you purchase the book, you’ll receive a code that provides access to the test. It took about 15-20 minutes. I took the test on June 15, 2017 because I didn’t want to just guess and think I had a relatively high EQ. My scores out of 100 were:

Personal Competence: 93 (combined score of self-awareness and self-management)

Self-Awareness: 88 (the ability to accurately perceive my own emotions and staying aware of them as they happen)

Self-Management: 98 (utilizing that knowledge to affect my behavior)

Social Competence: 95 (combined score of social awareness and relationship management)

Social Awareness: 95 (the ability to perceive the emotions of others)

Relationship Management: 95 (utilizing that knowledge to build effective relationships)

Overall EQ score: 94

The perfectionist in me was disappointed. I resisted the urge to re-test.

If you’ve never read anything on EQ, I recommend this book; if it’s been a while since you’ve read about EQ, I recommend this book. It will help you remember how much pastoral preaching is relational. It will help remind you to work as much on your relationships as you do on your messages…

and all for God’s glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).




How to Balance Saint-Sanctifying with Being Seeker-Senstive (part 2)


For many of us preachers, Paul’s hypothetical situation recorded in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 brings us comfort and encouragement. It reads, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” The unbeliever takes the posture of a worshiper; he has become a Believer as a result of the insider-directed message.

However, did you notice what the preached Word did? “He is convicted…called to account…the secrets of his heart are disclosed.” The preached Word did that and this made me ask whether all exegesis and sermon preparation do this. In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, Conzelmann states, “The passage is important…for the Pauline understanding of prophecy: it is not prediction of the future, but unmasking of man.”

Do our sermons get to the point where God unmasks our listeners? I recently studied the methods of three effective pastors from three eras of history who addressed both saints and seekers through exegetical/theological/philosophical sermons: Jonathan Edwards, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Timothy Keller. Here’s what I learned from them:

1. They categorized their listeners according to spiritual condition. They also spoke directly to these categories. Often we think about application by categories of gender, occupation, age. But what about: the genuinely saved; those who profess Christ, but are struggling dearly with sin; professing Christians who show no evidence of being saved (absolutely no fruit); and those who profess to be non-Christian.

Keller suggest, for instance, that you should speak to the skeptics or doubters as though they are there each Sunday. He says that’s one way to ensure that they will show up. Word will get around that your church is a place where such attitudes will be discussed and where such attendees are welcomed. Look for places in your sermon where God’s Word is addressing these categories of listeners. See if this doesn’t help you to begin to unmask the man.

Preach well for the sake of God’s reputation.


Do You Let Your Listeners Know You Love Them While You’re Preaching And Does It Matter?


I recently read the lead article of’s newsletter which arrived in my inbox on November 1, 2013. The article was, How to Spot a Healthy Church–Quickly, by Ray Pritchard. Ray suggests there are two indicators of a healthy church that visitors can spot immediately. The first one is hearty congregational singing. The second one caught my attention: obvious affection between the pastor and the congregation. It made me wonder what we can do while we preach to show genuine affection.

I’m a firm believer that people skills have a greater affect on a sermon’s hearing than exegetical skills. I must love my listeners as much as, if not more than, I love to study and preach to them. And the affect of interpersonal relationships on communication are well documented. Every communication event, including preaching, contains a content element and a relational element. The relational element affects how we receive the content and what we do with it. When our relationship with our congregants is healthy, they place more importance on our content. When our relationship is unhealthy, they place less importance on our content. In an unhealthy relationship, the words don’t mean as much or the same thing we intend. That’s part of the reason why when two people are arguing during tense times, you’ll hear something like, “That’s not what I meant!”

So, what can we do to let our listeners know we love them while we’re preaching?

  • smile at them
  • laugh with them
  • dialogue with them (besides being an effective teaching tool, dialogue during a teaching time is a great way to build rapport)
  • tell them (say things like, “you know I love you dearly…”, at appropriate times
  • join them as a fellow struggler on the Way
  • (add some others…)

Does your faith-family know you love them? Let it show while you’re preaching. Our best listeners are the ones who feel the love.

Loving Those Who Don’t Listen


If you’ve preached in church for a while and watched your listeners, you’ve probably noticed that some don’t listen. I realize some may be faking it; they may actually be listening even though they look like they’ve checked out. However, it is a reality of pastoral preaching that some parishioners don’t listen. Some do not hear God’s Word, don’t receive God’s Word, and are not changed by it. It’s very easy to get upset with them.

In Luke 9:54, Jesus’ disciples, James and John (a.k.a., sons of thunder!) ask Him, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” What a way to react to those who don’t listen! Yikes! Jesus’ abridged answer: “But he turned and rebuked them” (v. 55). That’s it. Ryken says, “it was still time for mercy.”

What were they thinking? Well, they were protecting Jesus; their Lord was being insulted. They were extremely zealous for God and for souls (OK, at least they were extremely zealous for God). It’s easy for us pastors to harbor ill-will towards those who don’t listen. It’s extremely difficult for us to shepherd people we wished weren’t there! However, Jesus made it very clear that His disciples’ plan of attack was inappropriate. Later on in Luke 23:34 we read our Lord saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” May our Lord extend grace to help us love those who don’t listen.

“I must live th…

“I must live the Christian life as well as, if not better than, I am able to explain it.”

Back on October 8, 1996 I was invited by Haddon Robinson to give a lecture to his preaching students at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary called, Life in the Trenches. I gave six principles (the number six, rather than seven, best portrays the realities of pastoral ministry!). The first principle was that character is greater than competency. The quote presents one implication of that principle.

The Relationship Factor in Pastoral Preaching

Which do you love more, the preaching or the people?  Yesterday Michele and I enjoyed the rare opportunity to worship with another faith-family.  The pastor, Lanny Kilgore, is a good friend of mine and a very good shepherd.  What struck me about seeing him preach was how much he enjoyed the parishioners during the sermon.  I could tell that he loved them as much as he loved preaching.  In his book, Preaching & Preachers, Lloyd-Jones quotes Anglican preacher, Richard Cecil: “To love to preach is one thing, to love those to whom we preach quite another” (p. 105). Sometimes when I hear sermons, I get the impression that the sermon would sound the same and the preacher would preach the same even if nobody was listening.  The people really didn’t matter to the preacher, but only the sermon mattered.  Ask yourself how much the presence of listeners affects your delivery.  May our Lord give us a heart that loves His people as much as we love the proclamation of His Word.