Charles A. Steward, many years practicing pastor, read to his parish in Cana Baptist Church the lecture «How Satan Gets into Your Head». The field of the speech, its theme, the place the speech was read in, the speaker himself and his audience let me make some previous assumptions.
As Dr. Steward has a huge knowledge and experience in this field, and the audience is a group of the faithful, I expected the lecture to be full with religious philosophy, and instructions, how to improve the life according to the Christian values. I supposed also the speech to be rich of critical remarks about imperfect human nature. This criticism is not always understood by common people but apprehended by the faithful audience.
The mentioning of Satan in the title put on my mind the ideas about struggle of good and evil, and, for some reason, helplessness of human in that struggle. Thus having made some previous assumptions about the lecture, I prepared to listen to the life lesson.My first impression from the pastor as a speaker was: he has a huge experience of public speaking. His voice was strong and confident so that took a listener’s attention from the first word. That voice made an impression that the speaker was a wise person and woke a wish to listen to his words. The speech was clear and intonation wasn’t monotonous. Numerous sentence stresses, short pauses when it was necessary, different intonations kept the audience’s attention.
Besides, he tried to stay in contact with the audience asking questions, being humoristic in proper parts of the lecture, retelling examples from his own life experience, and applying to the present life events. Thus the minds obsessed with evil thoughts he illustrated with the minds of a woman committing suicide, a man cheating on his wife, and the minds of terrorists guilty in the events of 9/11. No American was able to stay cold when hearing about those actual problems of nowadays society. That entire technically perfect lecture made an impression that the speaker was an excellent student who had succeeded in the class “Public speech”. I thought that it would have been interesting to listen to his first speeches and compare.
While the lecture was excellent technically, it seemed to be luck of something. The matter wasn’t in the speaker’s intelligence – he knew what he was talking about. Surely, highly educated pastor was intelligent, knowledgeable, persuasive, and difficult to argue with. He wasn’t lack of words, arguments, proves, and Bible citations. But I didn’t perceive him emotionally. I thought pastors had to be loving and sympathetic to their parish, feel sorry about people’s mistakes, and try to help to correct them. As one eastern proverb says: those who are smarter than you treat with respect; those who are equal to you treat with friendship; and those who are less smart than you treat with sympathy. Meanwhile, this pastor spoke like a teacher with schoolchildren.
He was trying to be clear and may have been paying attention at the clarity of his words more than at the feelings he put into those words. I had the impression that he was looking down upon his audience; felt he was better, wiser, smarter. I actually know that he really was, but I think, a real pastor would never show this.
This feeling of the speaker’s ostentatious superiority decreased at the end of speech only, when he was talking about his own bad experience to show that everybody can make mistakes. Thus to me the speaker didn’t have some such important qualities, as kindness, sympathy, patience, and love to be a really good pastor.So I can say that the speaker didn’t put enough efforts to make the audience not only to understand the speech but also to feel it; to feel love and sympathy they expect from the Christian priest’s words. The speaker’s failure seemed to me stranger when he was retelling about the fact that people usually do what they feel but not what they think is right. If I understand that the speaker is right but don’t feel like listening to his words – I will not listen to him. If his task was to make people to hear to him, he should have put more feelings in his words.In general I agreed with the matter of the lecture.
There were, however, the moments that I didn’t entirely like. For example, first pastor was talking about struggle between Satan and God for our minds. It sounded like we are just spectators in this battle. Do we have any choice, and any responsibility for our thoughts or should we just blame Satan for negative and thank God for positive thoughts? Lately the speaker was talking about our responsibility for our thoughts and our duty to make God the main object of our mind. It wasn’t really clear: who, nevertheless, is the master of human mind?Generally speaking, the speech was good though had some imperfections. I liked that pastor seemed to be highly educated in his field and skilled in public speaking.
I liked his efforts to contact with the audience. However, what I disliked was ostentatious speaker’s superiority and lack of “brother love” in pastor’s words. That ranked him with the preachers who like how they speak more than audience they speak to. Thus, I think, Dr. Steward is a good public speaker but not a perfect preacher.