I was speaking with a preacher friend recently, and he said something so simple and true, I wrote it down immediately.
“Every Sunday when I preach, I realize that I am being critiqued by 400 people. There are not many jobs like that. I have had to get comfortable with this fact.” My friend went on to say that despite improving in preaching, at least in his opinion, he now receives less compliments than in the past. “They just expect it,” he added.
Those 400 congregants critiquing my friend? They don’t all see it the same. The 20-year-old home from college wonders why the preacher does not have more of an edge, while the newcomer “just loves” the new preacher. The broken-hearted widow thinks the preacher lacks sympathy while another appreciates the no nonsense approach. The deacon wishes he used more humor like his favorite podcast preacher, and a long-time member thinks his preacher has gotten a little stale. And all the while my friend—he is just trying to be faithful to the text in front of him for that day.
This just in.
You can’t please everybody! Even your best homiletical efforts will fall short in some eyes. That home run sermon two months ago, the one you received ten complimentary emails about? More than one person left church that day griping about you raising your voice or only remembered your grammatical error. A host of your hearers could not tell you even one thing you said 24 hours later.
You can never please everyone. Never. So, don’t even try. Just keep your eyes on Jesus, strive to please him, bathe your efforts in prayer, do your best, and trust God.
If it weren’t so serious it would almost be funny. To stand in front of a crowd of people week after week and propose to speak on behalf of the Lord God Almighty. Who does this kind of thing?
So, to all my preacher friends, as you climb into the pulpit next Sunday, repeat these words.
“I cannot please everybody.”
And that is just fine.