3. Remember Your Audience of One. The fact that we answer to God in no way excuses bad preaching, or remaining oblivious to helpful critique, but it may protect us from more sinister attacks. Remember that every sermon you ever preach could have been better, and that God is both understanding and forgiving of human weakness and frailty.
With that critical caveat in place, then we need to ask whether we could stand before God and give an account for the way we prepared, the way we processed earlier input/feedback, etc? Did you walk through the preparation by faith and do your best as a steward of the ministry opportunity? His is the evaluation that we value the most. While we listen to those we serve, we mustn’t live in fear of displeasing unspiritual nitpickers in the pew. Even if they can drive you from “their” church, we must minister ultimately for the evaluation of our Audience of One.
4. Remember to Prayerfully Process. Whether you receive praise or criticism, be sure to process it prayerfully. Our fleshly egos are very powerful perverters of personal processing. Our tendency to self-love and self-concern can elevate praise from others into worship of us, and at the same time turn gentle and helpful critique into a savage personal attack. I don’t trust me with me. You shouldn’t trust you with you.
Independent introspective processing is one of the most dangerous things a Christian can participate in, because it is so close to the fallen realm we were rescued from. So how should we process things? Prayerfully. That is, in conversation with the God who can faithfully and tenderly sift and sort through our motives and affections. Search me and try me, O God! He can be trusted and must always be the lead partner in such an exercise!
More thoughts tomorrow, but please don’t hesitate to comment on here, or on Twitter @petermead (#ListenerSatisfaction).