I had an interesting experience last week. I was invited to lead a Bible study with an amazing group of people. I guess we had about 40 in attendance. They were extremely inquisitive, raising their hands to ask a variety of questions, sharing numerous needs, and singing favorite songs. Yes, one lady told me that she had awakened that morning with a song on her heart, and she wanted to sing a little bit of it. So I told her to go ahead, and she did. Loudly. With great gusto. And when she was done, the group applauded her, and she had tears in her eyes. Do you know what the amazing thing was? When I was finished, several of these wonderful people came up to me to tell me how interesting it was an that they hoped that I would come back and do it again.
Now don’t get me wrong. After every service (almost), someone at Southside comes up to me and tells me what a great message it was. But there was something special about these individuals. They weren’t concerned with encouraging me or trying to be nice. They truly meant what they said. Let me explain with an illustration.
Have you heard the story of the visiting preacher? When he finished his message, he stood at the door greeting the people as they left. One young man came by and said, “Your sermon was boring.” Well the preacher smiled, patted him on the shoulder, and looked to the next person. A few minutes later, the same boy came by and said, “You preached too long.” Well, the visiting pastor was taken aback, but he figured he would just let it pass. But here came the young man again, and this time he said, “You are about the poorest preacher I’ve ever hear.” The visiting preacher was beside himself, and when the pastor saw how agitated he was, he told the man, “Don’t worry about Jimmy. He just goes around repeating what everyone else says.” And folks, that just blessed his heart.
Listen. Pastors don’t do what they do because of the things people say as they leave the church. We do what we do because God called us to do it, but it is nice to see sincere appreciation on the face of someone touched by the message. If you want to bless your pastor, as you leave on Sunday morning, take him by the hand, put an arm around him, look into his eyes, and tell him you love him. Or that you are praying for him. Or better yet, tell him both. That will truly bless his heart.