The Preacher Critics

A while back I wrote a treatise on responding to those who criticize your sermons or preaching style.  I've continued to notice Scriptures that speak to this issue over the past few days.

In the treatise I wrote: "I did an incredible series of meetings last year and got a polarized response.  Many people came to me throughout the week and shared how impressed they were with my preaching ... Later that week I recieved a response about the meetings from a pastor who shared with me that several of his key members felt I failed as a communicator ... 

Even the best preachers I have every heard face continual criticism.  The executive pastor at our home church in Minneapolis is just one example.  He is one of the greatest communicators I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot of great preachers) - engaging, anointed, hilarious and always moves people to action.  Recently an older saint came to him after the service and said, "Usually I can't hear you because you talk so fast.  Today you talked slow enough for me to understand and now that I heard you, you did terrible!"  I'd pretty much guarantee that the most popular, well known preachers in the world today face more criticism on a more frequent basis than any of us would ever expect.

It is common to have opposite responses in the same service.  My father in law says, "we can't always hit the ball out of the park."  And I will add, many times when we hit the ball out of the park for one guy, the guy on the other side of the stadium thought it was a foul ball from where he was standing."

This is clearly laid out in Scripture when we look at the Apostle Paul.  In Acts 17:18, "some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him and began to engage in discussion.  And some said, What is this babbler with his scrap-heap learning trying to say?" (Amplified).  You may say, but Matt, these were non-believers.

Consider 1 Corinthians 10:10, "For they say, His letters are weighty and impressive and forceful and telling, but his personality and bodily presence are weak, and his speech and delivery are utterly contemptible (of no account)."  These statements were not only coming from believers, they were coming from people Paul himself led to Christ!

I wonder how quick these people would be to criticize if they could step back and look at history and see the stature of the man they were criticizing, through God's eyes?!  And could this be said of anyone we are criticizing today?

And then there were many, many others who admired, followed and loved Paul's preaching - including billions of us around the world today who call ourselves Christians!  Some pre-Christians in Paul's day even called him the "god of speech." (Acts 14:12, Amplified).  And yet, even these people turned on Paul quickly and ended up stoning him.

The more I walk with the Lord, the more I realize that when we are quick to judge and get angry - we are placing ourselves in line for God's judgement.  Jesus explained to us the way to life - "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." (Luke 6:37, Message).

The Scriptural promise: Give grace = get grace.