One of our readers, C. Johnson, wrote a perceptive comment which reads in part:

To a large degree, what is said, heard and done (in the pulpit) is all prepackaged. Even the words that are used, are for the most part scripted long before a text is exegeted and expounded.

he continued,

Too many who populate pulpits reduce the Bible to the script of the people we serve and as a result, lead them into both mediocrity and blindness.

Using the Pulpit to Beat our Enemies

Often we use the pulpit for many things other than preaching the word of life to a dying world. Some of us use the pulpit as a club to beat our enemies into submission. We may have a program that we want or a new initiative that many leaders in the church are against. Then we use the pulpit to paint our enemies as “unloving” or “not wanting the Kingdom of God to flourish.” The preacher has to be very careful that it is God leading in such a condemnation and not merely ourselves. In a twitter thread one prominent preacher told me that “redemptive cutting heals.” Too often our cutting can do just that…cut.

Other preachers go into the pulpit to sow seeds of doubt in the congregation about other leaders. We must always make sure that we are doing the work of God and not the work of Satan. This tactic is from the evil one and not from God. God used true and right principles when defending truth, we must do the same.

Feed the Sheep or Bleed-On the Sheep

Finally, it is key to let the scripture guide the sermon and not our own “pre-scripted” message. Some of us are so hurt or broken that we go into the pulpit and share that brokenness with our congregation. One preacher said, “The Preacher should Feed the Sheep…not Bleed-on the Sheep.” We bleed on the sheep when our agenda is to defend ourselves rather than to further God’s agenda in the congregation. We bleed on the sheep when our agenda is to beat down our enemies rather than to build up the congregation. We bleed on the sheep when our agenda is to promote our program rather than promoting the Kingdom agenda which will sometimes step on both the preacher’s and the people’s toes.

We have a great responsibility. God expects us to promote the agenda of the Kingdom. Let us stand up and allow the Word to do its work. Stand up and preach the truth and as much as possible, leave our pre-written scripts aside.

11 thoughts on “Are You Feeding The Sheep or Bleeding On The Sheep?

  1. Alice Evans says:

    The pulpit is not the place to beat up on people. However, the Word of God will find you out and speak to you secretly. That is the beauty of our God. He doesn’t embarrassed us but through his Word you will be convicted.

    Transparency is a good thing but how much is too much?Because preachers are apart of the human family, they are not exempted from flaws and imperfections. Maturity is key and certainly when you are trying to please God,you don’t want to humiliate or hurt the hurting. Let the word search them out!!

  2. Sylvester Warsaw, Jr. says:

    Greetings, Elder Cox,

    I first want to respond to viewing a member of the household of Faith as an enemy. The fact of the matter only Satan is the enemy of the family of God. Any Pastor or minister of the Gospel who view a child of God as an enemy has a jaded understanding of the Gospel and needs to repent. Romans 5 tells us that we were all enemies of God because of man’s disobedience and we’re made righteous because of the Cross of Calvary and we live because Christ lives and we have life in Him and Him alone. With that said Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 6:10-18 who the Christians fight is against and how to fight the real enemy. In in the words of that great song of the faith “the battle isn’t yours it’s the Lord’s”. God is the one who fights those spiritual battles we encounter/have so that He’ll get the glory and honor and not us.


    Sylvester Warsaw, Jr.

  3. B. Gaye Suomie says:

    I just want to thank and appreciate all the Writers that wrote on this topic feed the sheep or bleed the sheep. let me tell you that, I learn a lot from it , there are times in life you see people doing wrong thing while preching but you just don’t know how to correct them in this direction i believe you rather teach then instead of preaching against them .

    Another way to do this, call them talk to them aside, i believe they will change for the better, preaching against them will not help anyone. we are all Human we something make mistake.

    Our battle is not against flesh and blood but agains principility and powers spirit wickness in high places.

    I sometime make some of these mistakes .
    this topic will really Help me

    God bless us all as we work in the vineyard of the Lord.
    again I say God bless you

  4. Dr. Anthony R. Watson says:

    This was a well written article, and the message was something to think about. I’m one of those ministers who has been hurt by the(Baptist) church, specifically ministerial staffs. I’ve noticed that my sermon presentations are more apocalyptic in nature, and like the Prophets of old, they are filled with warnings of impending judgment. I’ve even reached the point of being fed up with organized religion. Unfortunetly, I do view these folks as enemies, because their actions and attitudes project rebellious behavior that is contrary to God’s will.

  5. Pastor Frederick D. Harris says:

    Bro. Cox, I understand your desire for clarity as far as “Feeding or Bleeding”, needful topic and I agree in principle. I would like to hear your response to Dr Watson. Dr Watson, if I may ask how does your previous experience with the Baptist Church influence your message as it relates to the topic Sir?

  6. Jun Banaag says:

    Just a query. Was Jesus preaching to the Jews a beating or not? He used very strong words to the Pharisees.

  7. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:


    There is a moment when correction is needed and must be presented. But as always one must be sure that the origin of the correction is God and not us preachers…

    Too often we assume that one who disagrees is an enemy of God rather than a friend helping us to reconsider.

    Is there ever a time for “righteous indignation?” Yes…But be doubly sure that it truly is “righteous” and not simply “indignation”….

  8. Unfortunately, the subject of this topic is a common occurence in the church. Yet as B. Gayle S. wrote, it is not the people that are the problem, it is the spirit driving them. As pastors we have to recognize and always be aware of this truth. When Jesus spoke to the Jewish leaders he addressed their MOTIVES, not who they were as people. When that proved fruitless he said, Father forgive them for they know not what they

    Wielding the word as a double edged sword means cutting to the bone at times, however, coupled with the skill of a surgeon to remove the diseased parts the same word can also bring about healing.

    We must rely on the Holy Spirit more than ever to guide us in tending the sheep. Keeping in mind that we cannot know the hows or whys ( or ways) of others, and learning to keep our own emotions in check.

    Truly, our feelings should not even enter into it because its not about us, it’s about the God we serve, and glorifying Him. Many times I have had to bite my tongue and fight back tears and anquish dealing with ‘folks’. Sometimes things worked out, sometimes not, but the Lord was always faithful in blessing me when I trusted and honored Him.

  9. Jimmy Stanfield says:

    “Is there ever a time for “righteous indignation?” Yes…But be doubly sure that it truly is “righteous” and not simply “indignation”….”


    I’ve seen a lot of indignation that wasn’t righteous or biblical. There is a balance between honest pastoral rebuke of sin (which ought always to be respected) and just angry venting. We must be the outraged prophet soetimes yet the humble servant too and it’s a difficult balancing act sometimes.

  10. I’ve enjoyed all of the articles.
    There is one thing that I know about this enemy called Satan. He will attempt to try and tempt any preacher’s flesh into rising up while ministering to the people of God. This is why we lead out with an opening prayer asking the Holy Spirit to take charge of our mortal flesh! There are numerous temptations that can cause a preacher to fall into Satans trap.
    1) The size of the congregation can affect some preachers. Too small, some might complain. Too large, some might get excited and start to perform in the flesh.
    2) Things that get under your skin or something that is bugging you, can cause your sermon to take a wrong turn.
    3) Personal struggles can cause some to speak in doubt instead of having trusting faith in God’s Word.
    These are examples of flesh issues that have to be dealt with. The one thing we don’t want to forget is that our job as preachers of the gospel is to preach/teach God’s Word and not our own thoughts! We must stay on course and remain in the flow of the Spirit while speaking on God’s behalf. That’s why we’ve got to say it ~ like God said it in His Word, with Christ Jesus being our great and only example! Therefore, when we press toward the MARK for the prize of the high calling of God, we will remember that it is Jesus we are ultimately reaching for. Remember, it’s the Word of God that has the power! God bless you…

  11. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    Elder Carl Brice,

    Yes, there is always a temptation to excite the congregation with tricks or games or pablum from the pulpit. And the preaching moment, if we are not careful, can turn into a moment where a codependent preacher gives the drug of enticing language so that the codependent congregation can give the drug of congregational response to the preacher.

    It is a very scary thing when you think about what we are called to do. When we stand up and say “Thus Saying The Lord…” When we attempt to preach the oracles of God. (1 Peter 4:11) The job is greater than our ability to fulfill, we definitely need help from on high.

    We must do whatever is in our power to not allow our issues to overly sway the message in a way that it should not go. We must pray and ask help from God in the planning, preparation, and presentation of the message. And then after having done all we can do, we fall back on the grace of God that even when we fail, God’s word will not come back void.. (Isaiah 55:11)

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