Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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First Person Plural Pronouns

  • Jim Townsley
  • Apr 16, 2015
According to English grammar, first person plural pronouns are “our,” “ours,” “we” and “us.” These pronouns are used when we refer to ourselves with others. We should learn to use this aspect of speech as we lead our churches. We can learn this lesson from the great leader Nehemiah. When Nehemiah accepted the responsibility of rebuilding the wall he prayed a repentant prayer. In his prayer he spoke in the first person and used the pronoun we.  ". . . we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned." - - Nehemiah 1:6.  "We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses." - - Nehemiah 1:7.  Nehemiah accepted the failure of building the wall as a national failure. He did not place the blame solely on others but identified himself as a guilty party along with the entire nation. This attitude allowed Nehemiah to call everyone, including himself,  to rebuild the wall. The Jews felt he was not just condemning them, but joining them in undertaking this great and needful task. We too must see the work as our work and any failures as our failures.
Using the wrong kind of speech can lose the support of our members. We must take care when using the second person and ascribing all sin to the congregation. Stating, "You people need to repent," or "you all are backslidden" gives the impression that the preacher is condemning people while placing himself upon a pedestal.  Leaders must take great care to exhibit a spirit of cooperation and unity to further the work of God. A great leader tends to place less responsibility upon his followers and more responsibility upon himself. Notice how Nehemiah used the words "we" and "us." "Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.- -Nehemiah 2:17.This is how Nehemiah solicited support to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
A different part of speech we must be careful in using is the first person singular pronouns such as “I”  “me” “my” and “mine.”  The preacher that always speaks in the first person singular may come across as selfish or conceited. People eventually come to the conclusion that the ministry is all about you rather than showing concern for others. When the preacher indicates it is his church rather than God's church the spirit of the church is affected. One of the first lessons learned in grammar school is to be careful about the use of I, me, and mine because they tend to reveal a selfish attitude. The church is God's church and not the preacher's church. Further, the work is God's work and not man's. Members should follow the Lord not just a man. Paul said it well, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." - - 1 Corinthians 11:1. Paul is basically asking people to follow his example of obedience to Christ.
Nehemiah got the job done, he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. The preacher that fails to garner the support of his church family will struggle trying to build a church. Building God's church requires the support of many people using their many talents. When the church family is convinced of the love and dedication of their leader they will do far more than anyone ever thought possible. Words do matter and we must learn to use them properly. If we are willing to humble ourselves and seek to humbly lead our people God can build a church for His glory.