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Six Days to Sunday, Part 10 (final): 5 Ways to Hear Feedback

Congratulations. You’ve delivered your sermon. All that’s left to do is sleep – but you’re going to have to deal with the feedback from your sermon first. Even though you’ve spent considerable time praying, planning, writing, and delivering your sermon, your hearers just heard it and are presently dealing with the message. What’s more, they’re going to tell you about it. Some people will appreciate your work and what you said, some won’t.  Someone’s life my have been changed, someone else fell asleep. Before you get in the car and head home, you may have glimpses of all of these reactions and more. If you care about people at all, you’ll want to hear how the message was received.

But you are in phenomenal spiritual danger if you listen to it – whether the feedback is positive or negative.

As you deal with feedback, this is what you should never do.

  1. Never Listen to the Crowds: Crowds are fickle: They will love you one minute and hate you the next. It’s the way people have always been. Recall the massive shift in the life of Jesus. As He entered Jerusalem, the crowds cheered and celebrated Him, a few days later they shout, “Crucify him!”  Wow! That wasn’t the first time either. In Jesus’ ministry He both gained crowds and lost crowds; had a big church and a small church. Do you think it was Jesus’ preaching prowess that was the deciding factor? No. It was the crowd. If you’re elected President in America, the likelihood is that most people in the country voted for you, a minute after you’re sworn in, your approval rating is 50%.
  2. Never Listen to Yourself: You’re wrong all the time. What makes you think you’re right about how effective your sermon was? If you didn’t do your best, there’s always next week. Plus, if you truly believe that the word of God will not return void, simply trust your work to God. God may have needed you to stumble through a section or miss an important move. You don’t know. And when you do well, it wasn’t really about you anyway. The gift is from God. Your position is from God. Your message is God’s. Don’t Tweet that somebody asked you for your autograph or told you that you’re an amazing preacher or that it was the best sermons they ever heard or some other such silliness. You just need to get over yourself. The Bible says of Mary, the mother of Jesus, that upon hearing she was carrying the Lord, she “treasured these things in her heart.” When you receive  a blessing, you might want to try that.
  3. Never Fail to Objectively Evaluate And Grow. Give yourself a day or so, then double-back  and listen to your sermon. Take notes about your delivery, use of language, and how closely your sermon was to your manuscript. Evaluate. When done, cull the best from the sermon and repurpose it for another time. It’s not wrong to repurpose material. Bill Cosby has been telling the same jokes for 30 years.  U2 still performs music from The Joshua Tree. It’s their best stuff. That sermon series can become an e-book, a blog series, or a podcast.
  4. Never Forget Your Preparation. If you’ve walked through the stages laid out in this series, you should feel confident that you’ve done everything possible to prepare yourself. Trust your preparation. You’ve prepared with prayer, integrity, and honesty. If it was a bomb, it was a bomb, work harder next week. It if was great; thank God. You can’t go back and rescue it. On the other hand, if you phoned it in and it went well, thank Jesus for His graciousness. If it went poorly, you earned it, but your church didn’t. Do better by them next week.
  5. Never Fail To Listen to God. You’re where you are for a reason. I like to think the reasoning belongs to God. You have been called to your context because God wants to leverage your unique gifts in that community. You were called. And should sneak its way into your heart, trust that God is with you. Remember what first brought you to ministry. Recapture the impulse. Embrace the journey.
You have to know how to listen to feedback. While you need it, to live inside it – whether good or bad – is a recipe for emotional disaster. Don’t make your emotional well-being the responsibility of your church. Do your best. Keep learning and growing and move on. It’ll make you better.
Leave a comment. Let me know what’s been helpful. What response do you have?

 

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