I’ve always encouraged pastors to include at least one personal illustration in each sermon. And I also encourage them not to overdo it.
Today I want to speak to the “not overdoing it” guideline.
I’ve evaluated many, many sermons in which every illustration is about the preacher.
In fact, one pastor told me he does this intentionally, to make a connection with the listener, so that they will feel like they know him personally.
I’m not sure this strategy will work.Think about it. If you were at a dinner party and one of the guests spent the entire evening talking about himself, would you feel a connection?
I keep thinking of that scene in Beaches in which Bette Midler’s character — a shallow, self-obsessed person, says to her friend:
“Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
If you want to connect with your listeners, try to talking to them about them. Instead of bringing them into your experience again and again, try speaking into their experience.
Talk to them about where they are, not just about where you are.