For those who don’t speak churchy language, a “pulpit” is a piece of furniture that is sometimes utilized by preachers in a church. It holds a Bible and is usually placed front and center of the stage or platform. Other names for the pulpit are podium, lectern, or rostrum.
Recently, I was involved in a project at a church where we were moving some furniture around. I noticed that the pulpit had a lot of dust on it, mostly around the base at the bottom. Obviously it had been some time since the janitor had given it a cleaning. This is not an indictment of the janitor. In fact, I think those guys are the unsung heroes of most churches. I’ve always said that the best possible pastoral training is to serve as a church janitor for a while.
When I saw the dust on the pulpit, it struck me. I thought of what the desk represents: sacredness, purity, preaching the Word of God, the voice of God being heard by the people. But the dust spoke to me of humanness, of failure and of sin. It is ironic that God chooses such imperfect people to represent and communicate His perfection.
Some people expect a perfect pulpit (or pastor). There is no tolerance for mistakes. There are too many stories of preachers who have sinned. Although gross immorality happens only in a minority of churches, these stories get a lot of coverage in the press. Truthfully, however, there is proverbial dust on every pulpit. Every pastor has a struggle. To err is human.
Regardless of how hard we try, we are covered with dust. Preachers can do the work of God with diligence, yet we are still guilty of sin. This is not an excuse to sin; and be reminded that the standard for Christian leaders is higher than for everyone else (see James 3:1). Pastors, never approach preaching with unconfessed sin in your life. If you are not a pastor, pray for your pastor. But we must be aware that God works in spite of the dust in our lives. We can’t tolerate the dust or accept it as the norm. We’ve got to clean ourselves often. However, part of the wonder of God is that He selects you and me to be His messengers – dust and all. Amazing.