Last night was our singles care group. We meet once a week for fellowship, worship, and to apply Sunday’s sermon. Because of ice (cancelling this past Sunday’s service), we didn’t have a sermon to discuss this week. So, we discussed how we approach our Sunday morning service. What do we do before, during, and afterwards to prepare our hearts to meet with God and His people? One of the comments that someone made, really got me thinking…
“Do I sit there and critique the sermon (and the pastor delivering it) or do eagerly listen for God to speak to me?”
Wow! Busted! How often do I focus on what is being said, the way it’s being said, the pastor/speakers delivery, or how the plants on the stage are crooked. I remember being at a conference one year. I was very excited, we had the privilege to hear from a very good author. His books had impacted many lives and I was eager to hear his message. I do not remember a word he said that night. All I remember was walking away and thinking that was the driest, most boring person I’d ever heard. He could write, but he sure wasn’t that great at speaking!
How sad. It doesn’t matter if my pastor shares gripping stories and illustrations. It doesn’t matter if he’s captivating and animated. It doesn’t matter if he sticks to his notes and has a 5 point message that’s easy to follow. All of those things are good and helpful, but they are not what Sunday morning sermons are about. My pastors have a serious job (one I’d never want!). They are accountable to God for the folks sitting in that room. They have the awesome responsibility to bring God’s word to His people. My pastors love my church. They put in countless hours in preparing for their sermons. They take it very seriously. Some days, they’re on the top of their game and they have the most incredible sermons. And some days just aren’t as good. They’re human, they’re not gonna preach perfectly. I don’t sit there every week to hear a perfect sermon. I sit there every week (or this should be my thought) to hear from God.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if the illustration was funny or if all 5 points made sense. When I stand before the throne of God on that day, He’s not going to ask me if I laughed at my pastors illustration. He’s going to ask if I listened for His voice, His conviction, His prodding, His encouragement. Did I look for ways to apply? Did I look to meet my Savior? What was more important to me, the way the sermon was delivered or the truth that was being spoken?
What do you do? Are you a “close critiquer” or a “learning listener”. Sadly, I critique just as much or more than I listen.