Okay. I’m a minister. So I should want to talk about God––Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a large part of the job description.
I have no trouble talking about the Father. And I have no trouble talking about Jesus Christ. But the Spirit is a different story.
I am preparing to teach on the Holy Spirit in my campus ministry. No, I’m not merely mentioning Him in a lesson. I am planning a teaching series. Soon I’ll have to stand in front of college students and talk intelligently and helpfully about the Holy Spirit.
And I’m a little scared.
Because I don’t like to talk about the Holy Spirit. And that’s a bad thing for a minister.
I spent some time today meditating on these fears. I thought I would share them with you. I am only going to tell you why I am scared to talk about the Holy Spirit. I’ll let others tell you how to overcome these fears.
Five Reasons I’m Scared to Talk About the Holy Spirit
1. I haven’t experienced the Holy Spirit like I would like. I know the Spirit should be a strong presence in my life. And I can see the effects of His work in my life and in my ministry. It’s just that I can only point to a handful of times I “felt” the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I feel uncomfortable talking to others about something I haven’t fully experienced. But I have to throw off any pride and allow myself to speak as a fellow traveler, not as a tour guide.
2. I’ve never heard the Holy Spirit talked about much. I grew up in churches that were not merely uncertain about the work of the Holy Spirit. They were certain He didn’t do almost anything anymore. He did a few miracles in Bible times, inspired the Scriptures, and then flew back into heaven.
As a result, any time I make a statement about the Holy Spirit, I instinctively feel defensive about that statement. I imagine being challenged on that statement by old preachers. This makes talking about the Spirit quite a chore for me.
3. I don’t see others experiencing the Holy Spirit like people do in the Bible. As Francis Chan says in The Forgotten God, the lives of most Christians don’t show the Spirit’s power like we see in the New Testament. Some are uncertain whether miraculous spiritual gifts still exist. And the churches that still clam that the miraculous spiritual gifts sometimes display them in ways you don’t see in the New Testament (showy and man-centered).
Even apart from the miraculous spiritual gifts, you often don’t see the moral changes that one would expect to see in people empowered by the Holy Spirit. In some Christians, I don’t see the love, joy, peace, and other fruit of the Spirit.
Since many Christians haven’t obviously experienced the Holy Spirit, I sometimes feel that talking about the Holy Spirit would make them uncomfortable.
4. I am aware that the Holy Spirit is a controversial topic. Okay. This point should be the easiest for you to see and agree with me. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, you would be hard pressed to find two people who have the exact same beliefs about the Holy Spirit.
Some people think the Spirit still works miracles. Others don’t. Some think the Spirit speaks to them and directly guides them. Others see this as dangerously subjective. Some think that the experience during a Christian concert is the Spirit moving. Others think that is is simply emotions, similar to what one would feel during a secular concert.
And these disagreements can become nasty. One party says the other is questioning, or outright denying, their religious experiences. The other party believes that all the talk about the Holy Spirit is too focused on misleading feelings and dangerously close to challenging the unique authority of the Bible.
Who would want to talk about the Spirit upset others because you are too “charismatic” or because you are “quenching the Spirit”? No one…especially ministers, since some have been fired for being on the wrong side of the debate.
5. There are many misuses of the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to do much research to begin finding story after story of charlatans who have claimed they were doing great works through the Spirit, when all the while they were deceiving their followers. And in the process these “ministers” got rich.
Some abuse the Spirit because they wrongly attribute their feelings and wishes to the Spirit. People often claim that the Spirit has placed a burden on their heart to go somewhere or do something or marry somebody. Sometimes this is true. But sometimes it is just their own wishes and feelings, evidenced by how quickly they turn aside from their previous plans or dreams. The Spirit is not fickle, but listening to some Christians gives you that impression.
So I’m afraid that when I talk about the Holy Spirit, people will assume that I am misusing the Spirit.
I hope no one mistakes what I’ve written as encouraging others not to speak about the Spirit. I rather hope that Christians will talk about the Spirit more.
Sure, the ways we talk about the Spirit needs to be formed by the Scriptures. But we need to talk more about the Spirit.
I hope that this article helps unearth some of the reasons you are reluctant to speak about the Spirit. After all, you will not freely talk about the Spirit until you remove these barriers to doing so.