I don’t believe I have an accent–even though everyone around me testifies to the contrary. Just this past Sunday at our Community Picnic, a guest detected my combination Virginia/Kentucky accent. My standard retort is, “I don’t talk with an accent! Everyone else does!” But it’s best just to own it and move on.
Does my accent bother me? I confess, it used to. When you have enough folks tell you you sound like a hick or a redneck (especially when I’m tired), it wears on you. But why? God chose my birth date, my birthplace, and thus I should not worry about what others may say.
I’d been thinking about this for a while, speaking with an accent. Is my conversation laced with a gospel accent? If so, am I apologetic? Am I ashamed? Do I make a note as to how I’m talking normal? Is that really normal for me?
As I was already thinking about this, I received a review copy of David Prince’s book on “Church with Jesus as the Hero (thanks, David and AABC).” Lo and behold, Chapter 15 addresses the need for a gospel accent. He has a wife like mine who has a wonderful Southern accent (Prince’s is from Alabama while my wife’s accent is from Kentucky). I love what he says at the beginning of the chapter:
Many evangelical preachers I know preach sermons that are permeated by a wonderful gospel accent. Whatever portion of the Bible [from where] they are preaching is rightly influenced by the thick gospel accent of Scripture. As a gospel preacher, they know that they do not have to figure out creative ways to work the gospel into their sermons; rather, it is simply who they are as shepherds of Christ. They proclaim powerful sermons about the sovereign triune God who has made a way of salvation for all who repent and believe in the all-sufficient atoning work of Christ. The love of Christ compels them as ambassadors for Christ to take every sermonic thought captive to obey Christ in their pulpit ministry (p. 103).
Exactly! In my pulpit, in my public life, in my private life, may God give me an accent that brings the gospel of Christ to bear on hearts and minds.