Tuesday is for Preaching
Did you know that the Miriam-Webster Dictionary has a three-word noun? Really, a three-word noun. It’s true. Here it is:
Monday-Morning Quarterback: a person who unfairly criticizes or questions the decisions and actions of other people after something has happened.
Full Definition of MONDAY-MORNING QUARTERBACK
. : one who second-guesses — Monday–morning quarterbacking
Have you ever done that?
Have you ever been guilty of second-guessing someone’s decisions or actions or motives?
I have, —too often, I suspect.
How about yourself? Have you ever second-guessed about your own decisions? Of course, you have. So have I.
I suppose preachers might be especially prone to second-guessing or Monday-morning quarterbacking their messages from the previous Sunday. At least I hope I’m not alone because I do it every week. For me, it starts with the Thursday taping of the message for our two extension sites. I never want Thursday to be a “trial run” but the reality is that between Thursday and Sunday I rethink the message every week.
Was that point clear? Was that the right illustration? Is there a better way to get to that second point? Is there a better way to tell that story? How can I help the congregation understand these points quicker? At the end, did what I said and how I said it help people to know the will of God? What changes could I make so that the end result is a greater love for Jesus and a higher level of engagement in the world?
There are a hundred other questions that pop up and often many adjustments made before and sometimes in between the first and second services on Sunday.
And still, I am prone to do even more “Monday-morning quarterbacking” when Monday rolls around. Chances are high, that if you preach on regular basis, you do exactly the same thing. It is a guarantee that every week you preach, no matter where you preach, there are those in the congregation who are second-guessing your motives, your content, your interpretation. Some will do it from good hearts and some because their own hearts are not right in some way.
If you are not careful, you can drive yourself insane with second-guessing, the Monday-morning quarterbacking of both yourself and others.
Here’s some counsel from thirty years of preaching experience.
- Pray before you read any feedback. This is not always easy to do or remember but good and bad criticism can destroy you in different ways. So can failing to learn from others.
- Check your heart immediately when you receive negative feedback from others. Don’t be too quick to defend yourself but don’t assume every criticism is valid. Examine it. Weigh it. Pray over it. Learn from it.
- Listen to your wife. Listen to your wife again. She will be honest and she will be gentle. She’s not your enemy. She’s your helpmate. Positive and negative, listen to her. No one will be more helpful.
- Don’t be afraid (or ashamed or stubborn) about changing a message based on feedback. Sometimes this can be done in 30 seconds the next week. Sometimes it can be done in the program. Sometimes an adjustment can be made to how something is said between services. The point is to not ignore valid critique by yourself or others.
- Remember, no matter what anyone else says, your primary audience every week is the Lord Jesus Christ. If your heart and attitude are to please Him, to exalt Him and not yourself, to help others love Him, even if they misunderstand or hate you, be satisfied in that. You are not greater than your Master and He had critics every time He spoke.