SIDEBAR: Be Cautious With Personal Illustrations

Although personal examples are the most powerful, we should use them with moderation. They should not be the only kind of illustration you use.

With a sober mind, share your life in the pulpit, but pay attention to how you do so. Heed the following guidelines:

• Avoid using your personal examples to expose friends, disclose confidences, or embarrass family members.

• Avoid poking fun at others. Only poke fun at yourself.

• Avoid boastful reports. Don’t make yourself the hero of every story. Tell stories of your human weakness, too.

• Avoid excessive confessions. The pulpit is not a counselor’s couch. Using it as one is awkward for everyone.

• Avoid poor taste in content. (If this isn’t clear, just avoid references to the four Bs: the birthing process, blood and guts, the bedroom, and the bathroom. As some might say, “T.M.I! Too much information!”)

DOUG GREEN, Brea, California