In an interview with Chuck Swindoll, he recalls: “I remember my wife hearing me early on when I was preaching as a senior pastor. It happened to be in New England. She said to me as I mentioned the struggle of the morning, “I wish you were just who you are more.”

I said, “I am who I am.” She said, “No, when you stand up to preach, you change. I just enjoy being with you, and you’re fun to be with; but you’re not fun to be with when you’re in the pulpit.” I said, “Well, I’m not there to be a comedian.” She said, “You’re not a comedian at home, but you’re real.” Then she said, “So when you’re real, you certainly have touches of humor, and that wouldn’t hurt either. I would like to see the reality of your personality come out a little more.”

Well, you know I’ve learned that the voice of the Holy Spirit is often very close to the voice of one’s wife! The Lord spoke to me that day in a very real way, and I began a journey of giving myself permission—I would use those words—I need to give myself permission to be who I am. It takes years to learn who you are.

Some preachers are busy all their lives trying to be who someone else wishes they were. So they’re not themselves. When I see that in young preachers, and sometimes in older preachers, my heart goes out to them because I remember the struggle of that. I’m no longer struggling with who I am. Warts and all, flaws and all, I am who am. I don’t try to hide it; and because I don’t, I’m freer. I don’t spend as much time struggling with what they may think or how they may feel.”

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