Long-Winded or Short-Spirited?

Within the last week I have had several different church members to tell me about “long-winded” preachers. One was telling about a preacher who had been too “long-winded” in a recent meeting. Another was declaring to me how a certain preacher was “ruining” a congregation because he was too “long-winded.”

Now when a preacher is accused of being “long-winded”, the accuser simply means that he preaches too long to suit him. As someone has said, “These are usually the ones who desire a short sermonette so they can run out and be the first in line at the local buffet”. It’s amazing how “tired” some can get when the sermon runs over forty-five minutes in length. These same ones can sit on a hard wooden bench or on concrete for two or three hours during a ball game and never complain. Or they can sit glued to the TV for hours on end. But let the poor preacher go past forty-five minutes and he becomes “long-winded.”

It’s not hard to see the actual problem. It’s not that the preacher is too “long-winded” but it’s that the accuser is too “short-spirited”. He is short on the Spirit of God. Until one develops to the point where he really enjoys hearing the Bible preached, he is lacking as a child of God (cp. Matthew 5:6). At Troas Paul preached one sermon that was perhaps longer than twelve sermons today combined, and yet we have record of only one person in that audience who went to sleep, and after that experience, I doubt if he ever did again. Brethren in the first century met daily to study the Bible; in the twenty-first century it’s hard to get some to attend and stay awake only for three hours per week.

Guthrie Dean