Sermon: The Compassion of Confrontation -- By: Hershael W. York

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 04:4 (Winter 2000)
Article: Sermon: The Compassion of Confrontation
Author: Hershael W. York

Sermon: The Compassion of Confrontation

Hershael W. York

Hershael W. York is Associate Professor of Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has been elected to the Victor and Louise Lester Chair of Christian Preaching. He served as senior pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky for seven years, and has three for thcoming books including Preaching with Bold Assurance (Broadman and Holman).


In 1974 I was fourteen years old and at that vulnerable, easily impressionable stage of adolescence. Prior to that time, my life was tranquil. I enjoyed a happy home and a wonderful relationship with my Christian parents. But then a man came into my life who heaped all kinds of abuse on me every day. Every day after school I would go see this man before I went home, and he would subject me to the most intense forms of physical torture and verbal abuse imaginable. I would leave with my body wracked with pain and indescribable feelings of inferiority because of the verbal abuse he inflicted upon me. Yet, strange as it may seem, I always went back to him. That man was my wrestling coach; and he helped me understand that if I went through this kind of physical torture, if I learned to negotiate the rigors of his practices, then I would ultimately be a better wrestler. I would be disciplined.

I invite you now to a different scene in my life. I am no longer fourteen, but forty, married to a wonderful wife and blessed to be the father of two teenage sons. If you could be an unseen guest in our home, you might see us sitting at the table around a meal and engaging in happy banter or relational repartee; sometimes finding ourselves lost in laughter, sometimes sharing one of those moments that seems insignificant yet defines the direction of one’s life or home. You might witness one of those times when we delight in one another more than words could possibly describe. On the other hand, you might happen to glance in and see us when things are tense, when my sons have violated the will of their father and they are experiencing the tough side of love. Maybe they are being grounded or being lectured to. When they were younger, perhaps they were being—dare I say it?— even spanked. But, if you stayed long enough, you would eventually notice that the rare times when we administer discipline liberate and free our home for the peace, harmony, and mutual delight that usually reigns.

Like every father I love my sons. There has never been a time when I have enjoyed disciplining them (contrary to what I make them believe). I have never said to them “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” I tell them, “It is going to hurt you a lot more than it hurts me.” That is, after all, the point! But recently I rece...

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