Sermons ‘R’ Us

It happens this way …

In 1975, Levi Watkins, MD  began his career as a pioneering cardiac surgeon at Johns Hopkins, a teaching hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He spent every day teaching.

If you were to ask him, What do you teach? He’d say, If I had to prioritize what I teach, I’d say that caring is the most important thing. Any fine program can teach you surgical procedure.

And if you were ask him, How do you teach caring? He’d say something like, By sitting down on the bed by the patient. I touch their hand or cheek to reassure them, and residents can see the compassion.

And if you were to ask him, How did you learn to show compassion for patients? He’d say from a role model, the chief cardiac surgeon at the time of his residency. He was a sermon I enjoyed seeing.

And if you were to walk into his office, you’d see a framed poem by Edgar Guest on his wall that begins with: I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

After having sat through approximately 1,867 sermons in my life – a few of them brilliant, most not, I appreciate those sentiments. For fun, I went to the dictionary to check out the word sermon and found the original meaning. It comes from an Old Latin word meaning a conversation and an Old French word meaning to link together. So a sermon is a conversation that links people together. And isn’t that what many of us yearn for: to have the quality of conversations that link us to one another? Of course!

However, the most enduring sermons are not those we deliver through words but through our actions.


Photo by Kathy Richard

Some of my old sermons could easily have been titled:

  • Knock, knock. Nobody’s home.
  • My name is Carolyn. I’m a co-dependent, work-addicted perfectionist.
  • I’m lazy and feel guilty about it.
  • I’m ashamed of my body, so I ignore it.

What are my new ones? I’m working on them.

If you’re game, take a few moments. What are the titles of your sermons? You can’t help but be a sermon just by your existence on this planet. What are you role modeling in a caring way that will link you to others around you?

Are you a sermon people enjoy seeing? Are inspired by? Learn from? Pay attention to yours. You may inspire yourself!



  1. I’ll continue to, and do my best to always be that sermon people want to see. To inspire myself, I’ll make sure I’m inspiring them! I will listen to my mentors and role models who themselves are sermons you want to see, and do my best to emulate them!

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