Confronting The Angry Preacher In Me

Confronting The Angry Preacher In Me

Many years ago I had the practice of taking a walk on Sunday morning to go over the message I was going o preach in a few hours.  It was California, so the weather was usually cooperative.  On one of those walks I began confronting the angry preacher in me in a new way.

For context, we are considering inspiring quotes from master preachers.  We’ve considered a quote by John Wesley, one by John Newton, and one by Soren Kierkegaard.   In this post we reflect on a quote from John Piper.

Why I Confronted the Angry Preacher In Me

As I said, I was walking going through my sermon early on a Sunday morning.  In those walks I practiced my vocalization and gestures.  That usually worked well, because hardly anyone was around, because it was early on Sunday morning.

Well, as I walked down one street, I noticed at the approaching intersection a police car at a traffic light.  Two cycles of the light went by, and he just sat there.  Then, he came my direction at the next green light.  To my surprise, he pulled up right next to me and got out of the car.  He greeted me and then said, “Are you all right?”  I assured him that I was, and he proceeded to tell me his concern.  “I noticed that you are talking to yourself, and sometimes you seem pretty angry.”

I revealed that I was a preacher practicing my sermon.  He accepted that and departed.  But I was left with that statement: “Sometimes you seem pretty angry.”  I had to reflect on that.  Is that how I come across when preaching, and I had to admit that sometimes I was an angry preacher.  I began confronting the angry preacher in me that morning.

The Inspiring Quote From John Piper

The quote I want to share with you in this post is this one:

“God has ordained that our preaching become deeper and more winsome as we are broken, humbled, and made low and desperately dependent on grace by the trials of our lives.” 

The Background

Here’s a bit of background about this influential master preacher from Wikipedia:

Piper was born on January 11, 1946, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper.[12] His father was a traveling evangelist for over 60 years.[13] Before Piper was one year old, his family moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the remainder of his youth, graduating from Wade Hampton High School in 1964.


According to Piper, he had a religious conversion at his mother’s knee on a family vacation in Florida when he was six years old.[14] Piper has remarked that the fact he was converted at the age of six “blows him away”, not because he remembers the event, but due to his belief in the Bible’s telling of the hopeless condition of all humans who have not been converted.[15][16]

Call To Ministry

In the fall of 1966, Piper caught mononucleosis, and during this infection, he listened to the Pastor Harold John Ockenga on WETN, his college’s radio station.[27] Piper dated his call to the ministry of God’s word to that experience: “I can remember listening there on my bed to his messages on the radio and feeling inside my heart simply explode with longing to be able to handle the word of God the way he was handling it in the pulpit at Edman Chapel. Before those three weeks were over, I had resolved to drop organic chemistry… That was, I believe, my call to the ministry of the word.”[28]

Christian Hedonism

However, the most formative season theologically was yet to come: three years under the tutelage of Daniel Payton Fuller, at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, from 1968 to 1971. Fuller’s influence on Piper was, he admits with thankfulness, enormous.[29] Three things that would mark Piper’s life-work are traceable to that influence: assiduous attention to exegetical detail in Bible study[30] (indeed in all reading[31]), a central conviction of the all-embracing sovereignty of God,[32] and what Piper came to call Christian Hedonism.[33]

Christian Hedonism and Confronting the Angry Preacher in Me

Piper has been criticized for his explanation and defense of Christian Hedonism.  What he meant by that is that our focus should be on our joy in the Lord, and sharing that.  The goal is to become “winsome” in our preaching.

Think about that when you prepare your message.  We are going to be more effective in sharing our joy in life rather than trying to “scare the hell” out of our listeners.   Rather, we are more winsome when we have been molded by the challenges of life, and talk about how much joy we have in Jesus Christ.


Are you an angry preacher?  Thankfully, Piper is still writing and preaching.  Here he is explaining what Christian Hedonism is.

Here is Piper’s description of his Christian Hedonism.