Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This blog is for young ministers who get thumped on occasion. I got mine today and should you think that somewhere along the ministry trail it quits, it doesn't. Furthermore, it's a necessary part of kingdom life; specifically personal growth. Yes, even old guys take a hit here and there.

A member came to see me today carefully expressing the dissatisfaction she and her husband have regarding my preaching. They get nothing from it. Nothing. They are bored and frustated at hearing nothing from our pulpit. How does this revelation hit me? Well, not good. It didn't make my day. The fact that such a conversation went on is only half of the event. It's what I intend to do with it that completes the project.
  • I INTEND TO GROW FROM IT. This is valuable stuff....painful in obvious places....but valuable. Don't waste yours. This isn't weird. It's useful.
  • I INTEND TO IMPROVE. I'm a better preacher than I was a few years ago and I anticipate I will be a better preacher someday than I am now. So why should I let such a conversation do anything but motivate me to stay in school and keep learning the method God chose to reach the world?
  • I DON'T INTEND TO ADJUST TO PLEASE THEM. If God's improving me pleases them, then that's a bonus, but my goal will not be to step up to the pulpit this Sunday and tickle their ears. Such will be up to Him, not me.
  • I DON'T INTEND TO POUT. I've spent too many days in such a useless pit. No more....when I can remember. Yep, the lady did hurt my feelings. Nope, I will not squander my young age fretting over something that He must work out. If I can get better awesome. Worry will not be a part of my sleep effort tonight.
  • I INTEND TO USE THIS EVENT TO BUILD SOME OF YOU UP. Criticism especially hurts ministers. We are usually in this work in the first place because we are sensitive. It's a part of ministerial fabric. Thus, for us, hurtful words really dig deeply. But we must not wither under such heat. We must regard it as training in the Kingdom Gym.

I am not being picked on. A couple doesn't care for my preaching. They are good people. Hey, I don't care for my preaching sometimes. Even when I'm lousy God uses such messages to promote His agenda in some way. You have a lot on the ball, young leader. Don't resist those who challenge you. Take it in. Sort through it all. Keep the valuable stuff. Toss the rest aside.

We have work to do and such workouts will keep us from giving up. Endurance is a kingdom matter....a big kingdom matter. Don't quit......II Cor. 4:16-18. If you are His minister it will be imperative you take a little thumping here and there. You won't like it because you arent' supposed to like it. We didn't like homework either. But both are designed for our learning.


jackie chesnutt said...

Terry, I used to dream of all our congregations in a city coming together into a mega church. I've since realized that won't happen: 1) our leadership model, with rare exceptions, won't allow for it; 2) a variety of congregations allows for folks to pick and choose what suits them while they serve God.

We have folks all over NW AR that used to worship here and are happy elsewhere with different preaching. We have folks from all over NW AR coming here from other churches. All we can do is do our best.

Brother, I know you pretty well. No one does a better job of doing his best than you.

I appreciate your response to that which every preacher eventually hears. Your words are just what I and others need to hear.

Love those folks, pray for those folks, bless them in whatever decision they make and keep on doing your best. There are many of us who are growing from your preaching. I love you.

Anonymous said...

At least they came to YOU. It really bugs me when folks take complaints about me to their friends, or to the elders. It is underhanded, cowardly and divisive.

I can't work on the complaint if they don't come to me!

Charlie Curran said...


Love your blog. Your post today...not just for young ministers. I have been doing this for 25 years... and I needed what you said today. Especially the part. "Hey sometimes I don;t like my preaching..." That is the truth for many of us..


Charlie Curran


Thanks for your wisdom. "Not everyone is going to like me," was a tough lesson for me to learn.

drjimwhite said...

My prayer every Sunday after my sermon is that God will take my poor words and make them effective. When I feel as if I have preached a great sermon, the response is usually small if there's a response at all. When I feel as if I struggled with my words, someone inevitably calls and says they were moved. God can take anything and make it powerful. That's why I try to do my best and then just get out of the way. Thanks. Terry. I appreciate your attitude and your words.

Whit said...

So many of your sermons have refreshed my soul during the two years we've been at Memorial. Your authenticity is something to be greatly admired. Please know that God can be seen very clearly through your words and life.

Keith Roberts said...

Even though I'm no longer a young preacher (been doing this about 34 years) I got so much out of your blog.

Those thumps still hurt, but I try to put them in perspective. Your advice hits the spot. The key is to grow and learn from them.

Anytime such things sting me, I know I'm still doing this for my benefit... not His.

David Kirk said...

Terry: You are wise and good!

Anonymous said...

this was really encouraging Terry! Thank you brother

Wes said...

Thanks for posting :)

Danna said...

I was going to comment last night when I first read this, but decided against it, because I was feeling defensive. :o) I love you! The blessings I've received and the growing I have done since being at Memorial are indescribable! Just so you know....God IS using you!

Norsemanrm said...

Well Friend
You are amazing.
I don't often post a response because of our relationship but this really deserves the honor it is due.
You have a gift for sharing the word and encouraging people.
The number of responses to this post already are an indicator of the power of this message that other in your shoes need to hear.
The amazing thing is that you are so "tuned in" and open.
Most of us want everyone to think that we are loved by all.
But you, post for untold numbers to read the details of an event like this...WHY
Thanks for your openness to the Spirit's leading.
Keep being you, He uses you in incredible ways and we love we
Love you.

craig said...

I've never heard you preach, but I am encouraged every day by your writing. But even more than that, I am blessed to know your sons. It was through them that I see some of you. But even better than than, I see Jesus through them. For me, your preaching is just a side gig. It's your daddy abilities where I have benefited. (I know this b/c feel the same about my daddy.)

Also, as a college age Sunday School teacher, I feel this about my own attempts too. Thanks for the advise. It was much needed after last week.

Grace and peace.

Tammy said...

Sometimes being a part of the worship team I feel that I did a lousy job only to have someone tell me how they were brought close to God by the singing...Of course there are times I feel I did great only to hear how the singing was off. Knowing where my heart is in worship calms the emotions of pride or anger from either comment. You are so right that if we are His, we will take thumpings or even temptations...and try our best to turn them around to His glory. I love you!

Unknown said...

I can echo many of the comments that were already said. I would consider myself still young in the ministry, but been around the block at least once. Those thumpings do hurt, and many have made me grow. I like to "kill 'em with kindness" by being an example - coming to them, when they didn't come to me; or still preaching my style, just with something they may want "added" to the sermon.

Encouragement is never overdone, and I enjoy it whenever I receive it. I have enjoyed your sermons/Tulsa talks, and look forward to the next time.

Thanks for passing on what you learn...I need that from time to time, regardless if I've just got thumped or not. Thumping is humbling - which I need too.

Thanks for your thoughts...

Matthew said...

This is great advice and a wonderful way to handle this. Thank you.