As I was growing up my father, and his family, would often say, “The proof is in the pudding.” The original meaning was that you had to eat the pudding to find out what was inside it. Remember that in the “Old Country” pudding often involved meats and were a main dish. Today the phrase has a slightly different meaning. Someone might use this phrase to mean that what you put into something is what you’ll get out. The proof of a project is in the outcome. If you want really good chocolate pudding you need to put in really good chocolate, fresh milk or cream, and quality other ingredients. After all the proof is in the put pudding.
The proof is in the pudding could be correctly stated as the proof is in the put in. This got me to thinking about some of the tasks that I face on a weekly if not daily basis. Sermon preparation, prayer life, daily devotionals, ordination questions, and many more. Have these projects become routine? Am I simply plodding through them? The proof is in the pudding (put in). I devote many hours on sermon preparation, prayer life, and devotionals, but am I putting my best in other activities? The Columbia District Mission Strategist challenged a group of ministers to be productive rather than busy. Anything worth doing is worth our best work. I see areas that I can work on.
Then I began thinking about the church. Are we giving the best to our church? Here I am not simply talking to the members of my congregations in Williamson County Tennessee. What are we willing to put into our church membership? What are we willing to give up and/or do in order to serve a risen Savior? Too many people go to church with the expectation of being entertained or amused. Too many people go to church on Sunday with a shield put up so that nothing can change them. Too many people go to church and only spend that one hour interacting with God. Too many people spend that hour thinking and praying that the pastor won’t speak for too long because they worry about waiting at the restaurant.
The proof is in the pudding! We tend to get out of something exactly what we put into it. It is no difference for church and worship services. We get what we put in. When we are actively working for God, doing kingdom work, our prayer life is improved and so is our worship experience. This is because when we surround ourselves with the work God cares about we deepen that relationship that should be primary in our lives. When we don’t put our best into “church” we don’t get our best out. This also applies to our expectations. We generally get what we expect; good or bad.
Rev. David Spencer, the pastor at Riverside United Methodist Church tells about a revival he attended. The speaker at the revival told the people in attendance that they had the best pastor in the entire area! This statement was made at a community wide revival. In attendance were people of many denominations and congregational churches. The statement is interesting in the fact that it is absolutely true and can be applied to other aspects of the church as well. This isn’t a competition or a one ups game. If we set our minds on the fact that we have the best preacher/pastor/minister or the best choir or the best messages then we will find that our expectations will be met. The opposite is also true. If we expect the worst we’ll get it.
You see when we expect the worst we notice every small flaw. We notice the minister’s haircut, the missed word, and the way they clear their throat. We will notice the choir looks sleepy and that one, or more, sings off key. When we expect the best we notice the joy the off key singer has as they sing praises to God. When we expect the best we notice the minister’s use of pauses and appreciate the humor in the message. The revival speaker encourage everyone to go out and invite people to hear a great message by the best minister backed by a fantastic choir and congregational singing. If that is their honest expectation and you reinforce it when they show up, their expectations will be met even if the messages is only okay. The proof is in the pudding!
This is simply this pastor’s opinion. What’s yours?