Have you ever heard someone (probably a preacher or teacher in the church) say something like this:Patton listed 4 characteristics he sees in such statements. "They can:
“I had prepared all week to teach on __________, but the Holy Spirit changed my lesson at the last minute.”
* Neglect the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit was not present in the sermon/lesson preparation process)
* Blame the Holy Spirit (you did not prepare and are seeking to blame God)
* Be manipulative (if God changed your mind at the last minute, any critics of it might be criticizing God himself)
* Arise from a gnostic bent (the tendency to separate the mundane -- study -- from the sacred -- preaching)"
I think he has a point. I've seen/heard preachers who seem to get a charge out of letting people know just how "spiritual" they are. This person often tells folks that God "changed my sermon". But we could take it as evidence that this person is not very spiritual during the study process. I have seen once or twice a preacher pull a stack of outlines out of his Bible and indicate he is waiting for God to show him which one to preach! This was an obvious play for "I'm more spiritual than others."
But Patton neglects to recognize that this does happen apart from the quacks and gnostics -- and it is not stupid when it does! The secret is to be humbled by it and not exalted it. Patton believes that a preacher who changes his sermon "...misunderstands the way God works in the life of the church." But might it be possible that Patton assumes God only works one way in the life of the church?