3 3:48 PM by Claris Home Page version 3.0--> Compliments can backfire!


Graham to Festus in a day's sermons!

I had heard that Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, liked to attend church regardless of where he might be in his world travels. He had sold the company and was now promoting KFC; something of a living legend.

I also knew he was in Hong Kong that week. But it was still a surprise when the Colonel and his wife Claudia and a daughter walked into our church one Sunday morning.

It was in Hong Kong. It was 1974. The Colonel was there opening the first KFC outlet in the then British Colony.

Colonel Sanders looked as if he had just stepped out of one of his franchised fast-food windows -- dressed in his white suit and looking every part the Baptist deacon going to Sunday preaching in the deep South.

Following the English service Mrs. Sanders came to me and compared me to Billy Graham, both in preaching content and looks. The lady knew a little about public relations. Beyond that, she was wise! Tell a Baptist preacher he looks and sounds like Billy Graham and he is putty in your hands. It made my day.

They invited my wife and our two daughters to have lunch with them. In the spacious dining room of Hong Kong's most historic and finest hotel, the Peninsula, we enjoyed Kobe beef, as few chefs can prepare it. No chicken.

What a wise woman Mrs. Sanders was. I found myself agreeing with her every word; after all I reminded her of the greatest living preacher!

Sunday evening service found me again in the pulpit. The Colonel and his wife were gone but I was still basking in the glorious remarks of Claudia Sanders. Now, I spoke of her by her first name.

That evening I brought what I thought was another "great" sermon. Among the guests that evening were a couple from Scotland. After the service I greeted them at the door. The lady from Scotland said that my manner and voice reminded her of someone. She paused, thinking. I stood there beaming.

There are no greater preachers than those from Scotland and so I waited to be compared again to a great pulpiteer. After being compared to Billy Graham, what could be more fitting than to be compared to one of the great preachers of Scotland.

My imagination ran wild as to which great preacher she might be thinking.

"You remind me of someone, someone I have seen on television," she said.

My spiritual pride faltered a bit. I certainly did not want to be compared to a televangelist. But I need not have feared such a fate for the lady then spoke. She remembered who it was that my "manner and voice" reminded her.

Then she spoke the words I really needed to hear. Though it stung a bit, it brought my overflowing spiritual ego back to reality.

"Oh," she said, "I know who it is! You remind me of that Festus character on the television program `Gunsmoke'."

I must humbly confess that the guest from Scotland was much more honest and much closer to the truth than dear Claudia Sanders.

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