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The After-Sermon Effect.

The Reformed Chaplain's Study/Playroom/Small Group Zoo
The final "Amen." has been said. The music begins and people begin gathering their belongings. Kids are showing parents their Sunday School artwork, while bulletin inserts decorate the trampled floor. You take your mic off, untangle the wire from your sweaty collar. Grab the notes off the pulpit and ease into the sea of people, who you have talked to for the last 30-40 minutes. But now,...its time for them to talk back. The monologue is now a dialogue.

It is at this point I have found my old self emerging from his dying slumber. I hate it, but it happens. I have two clear reactions, but both grow out of my pride.
My first inclination is to tuck my head down and stiff-arm my way to the audio booth, spin move and toss the mic. While at the same moment, I bring my keys out...unlock the truck...crank and make the great Get-A-Way. Untouched. I know why I do this. It is not because I am shy guy. Its because I do not want to hear what people thought. I don't want to hear a bit of thoughtful criticism or insight that might confirm my fears of 'John Craven is flawed.' I want to live in my own guarded fortress of mirrors that praise me as the 'Fairest Preacher of them all.'

My second response is just as dark. It is the lingering around or baiting questions that long for the approval of men. It is subtle, but revealing. It is the reassurance that John Craven still has the 'right stuff'. Its the Pharisee in me, that says, "I sure hope they heard that articulate well-crafted sentence." It shows up at home or in the car en route. Its longing for more than the 'help' of my wife, it is longing for the aggrandizement of my skills.

The After-Sermon Effect is such a lure for me. So, easy for me to preach Christ for 30 minutes and suddenly long for people to worship me after its done. I have learned the scheme and lure. How many times will my eternal reward be summed up with, 'Good Job, John.' spoken by a peer...when what I should be longing for is 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.' spoken by my Savior, Christ Jesus.


Final Thoughts:
1. If you are a layman, do not stop encouraging your pastor due to this blog,...continually be supportive. But please keep Christ as the center of all your praise. This helps us as preachers/teachers not to gloat.
2. Brothers in ministry, let us fight to keep Christ as the object of all worship. The Gospel does not need anymore stumbling blocks, especially pride-soaked, no towel, puddle-making pastors.

Comments

  1. First, a small bit of encouragement to my chaplain buddy and all of the other ministers - We, the lay people, appreciate the ability of our preachers to explain God's Word to us when we may not understand the full scope. Or better yet, to bring to light a new way of approaching a difficult passage or personal issue we may struggle with.

    That being said, people outside of the ministry seek praise for the "good deeds" or "good job" they do from their co-workers, superiors, and even spouses. I think that you bring up a good point that we should do it not for what we will receive in return, whether that be returned "good deeds", an "atta boy", or making our spouse feel like they need to "step up and do more chores because we did". We should strive to do these things because that is the example Christ set for us.

    Finally, on a less serious note along the same line, sometimes ministers have a way of pointing out something we may do everyday that we do not even view as incongruous with Christ's example for us...so, "if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound" could be "if we are sinning, and do not know it, is it still a sin?" The answer, is of course, yes.

    Hope to see you soon!
    Mark

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