My Sportscar

Years ago, I wanted to buy a used sports car.

I fell in love with this car and thought I had to have it. Martha and I discussed the car, and we were ready to purchase it.

Then, something happened that made me understand the car was not for me.

I was disappointed, but it was the right decision. That didn’t keep me from turning my head every time I saw a sports car like the one I wanted to buy.

Then, guess what happened! Martha gave me the sports car for Christmas.

No, not a car I could drive. She gave me a remote controlled sports car just like the real one I wanted.

We have laughed about that story for years. I told it a number of times in different venues.

You can imagine how I felt when a preacher told my story as if it had happened to him! After he told the story, I really didn’t listen to anything else he said.

Integrity matters.

How does a pastor use someone else’s material?

Pastors have a unique responsibility about integrity. Most pastors study extensively in order to preach, teach, and lead people. For example, I have three distinct preparations each week to preach and teach. Sometimes that extends to two or three additional preparations for other responsibilities I have.

In order to have something fresh and alive to speak, I need to study extensively.

How does the pastor use study material without plagiarizing or misusing someone else’s original material?

First, remember your integrity is everything. Nothing can take the place of it.

Second, give proper attribution to whatever you use. The man who told my story could easily have said, “my friend Waylon Bailey told this story.” Giving proper attribution would not have taken away from the humor or the point of the story, and it would not have destroyed his reputation in my eyes.

Most public speakers don’t mind being quoted. I often have this blog quoted or reprinted. It makes me feel good that others think it is helpful.

Authors and speakers do mind having their material stolen.

Integrity matters in all relationships. Your integrity is very important. Take good care of it.

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7 Responses

  1. I agree with your post about maintaining our integrity. A few years ago an evangelist preaching at our church used a sermon I heard preached at the SBC Pastor’s Conference several years before. It was a great sermon that needed to be preached again. But I wish the evangelist had at least told us who or where the sermon idea came from. I’m sure I was the only one in attendance who knew this. But it had a negative effect on me.

  2. I love that story. it probably happens more than we think. I have a feeling that the minister’s wife wasn’t overjoyed with the story either

  3. Reminds me of the time Dr. R.G. Lee and his wife were driving through the country, and they stopped to for a worship service. The pastor was preaching Dr. Lee’s Payday Some Day sermon. They heard the whole thing. Afterwards as they drove on, Mrs. Lee said to him something to the effect that the young man had done a better job at preaching Dr. Lee’s sermon than did. And there is the case of Mr. Spurgeon calling in one of his preacher boys for borrowing a sermon (from . Spurgeon, I think). Anyway, the young man pointed out that Spurgeon had preached a sermon entire from one of his old books. In checking his sermons, Mr. Spurgeon found that it was true. He had borrowed a sermon subconsciously without realizing it. Spurgeon was conscientious in his practice of integrity. So was Dr. Lee who had not called attention to the fact that the young man had preached his sermon.

    None of what I have said is intended to justify any lapses from our perfect standard of integrity, the Lord Jesus Christ. Study is what I do, even though I do not now have opportunities to preach. With a library of about 17,000 volumes and a love and a passion for documentation, having taught Senior Papers at one university for a semester as a Graduate Assistant (under the supervision of the professor who said I knew enough to teach the course and that he would grade the papers). It was difficult for my professors in seminary. I caught one in a mistaken quote, and it embarrassed me more than it did him. The reason is simple: Why embarrass someone who might have had a temporary loss of judgment or was caught in a moment of forgetfulness (forgetting to check what else the scholar had said that he was quoting). Our problem I how does integrity and compassion go together.

  4. I know of a pastor who fired for preaching someone else’s sermon. In addition to the integrity issue, they had legal concerns because they televised their services and the pastor used a well known t.v. preacher’s sermons, word for word. Both lazy and stupid.

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