For a preacher, the moments right after preaching are usually the most vulnerable.
You wonder what a group of people will do with the message you’ve been pouring your heart into.
Most pastors want their message or sermon to be about more than just their own performance, but there’s something that leaves a minister feeling completely exposed after preaching.
Maybe that’s because they know teachers will be judged more harshly. Maybe they feel an intense amount of pressure.
And rightfully so.
After a preacher speaks, people always want to come to him/her afterwards and talk to about it. And like I said, this is the most vulnerable time for a preacher. A speaker might feel awkward about taking a compliment concerning their sermon but that is always far better than the comments, from what Marshall Shelley calls, “well-intentioned dragons.”
A well-intentioned dragon is someone within the church who is a well-meaning saint, but leaves ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake.
When I was in college, there was a guy who for 60 bucks agreed to stand up straight with his hands behind his back knowing that another guy was going to kick him in between the legs as hard as he could with combat boots on.
When a well-intentioned dragon approaches you, right after giving a talk, it’s exactly like this guy from college, except there is no money involved.
I present to you the most hated comments to receive after a sermon:
(adopted from the Leadership Journal & John Ortberg)
“Your preaching has really improved” This is what you call a chocolate covered turd. Maybe it’s supposed to be a compliment and seems good from the outside, but after you bite into it, you realize it’s soft and mushy and it smells. It’s so bad it could make you sick. This points out how your previous sermons were not that great, but they’re getting better. Lot’s of things are getting better: the housing market, Justin Beiber’s haircuts, Spiderman cinema reboots… but it doesn’t mean that Stan Lee isn’t still crying.
“I’m so glad you said ‘X’” But what your message was about was the opposite of “X”. You start to wonder if there are just a bunch of zombies who hear what they want to hear at church. I once made a sarcastic joke about how we were planting a church in a liberal city in order to convert all the democrats into republicans. Afterwards a woman approached me and said that she thought what we were doing was wonderful and proceeded encouraging us to convert all those nasty liberals.
“I heard a similar talk once from …” You name it Mark Driscoll/N.T.Wright/Jon Piper/Rick Warren. What they’re really trying to say is that the other talk they heard was much better than yours. Then they want to give you all the ways you could’ve improved your talk by making it more like Pastor Famous.
“God told me to tell you…” that you haven’t been listening to him, that there is secret sin in your life, to sell your house, invest in my pyramid scheme, to preach more about sin/ gossip/ relationships/ marriage/ porn. This comment can end in many different ways none of them advantageous.