How should a pastor respond when he is complimented about his sermon?

“Great job…good sermon…that really spoke to me.” The list of phrases a pastor may hear as church members exit the church goes on. Inevitably, whether the sermon was good or not, these quick comments will be spoken to us with varying levels of sincerity and it is important that we know how to respond in a God-honoring way. Here are 4 suggestions: 1) Say Thank You. It is sad when a pastor tries to wear a false humility to hide either his insecurities or inability to know how to receive a kind word. It usually shows up in a pastor’s response after a kind, encouraging comment in this way, “Uh…no it wasn’t a good sermon. I missed it here, stumbled over my words here…” Just stop it and say “thank you for your kind words.” 2) Be grateful for the encouragement. Regardless the comment, if it was meant to encourage you, thank them for their encouraging words. Be grateful that however small, simple, or even shallow the comment, someone took the time to share their thoughts with you. Be grateful and receive it that way. 3) Be Humble that the Lord would dare use you.

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What should humble us more than a hearer taking time to encourage us about our sermon, is the fact that God would choose to use broken vessels like us week after week, Sunday after Sunday to feed God’s people with God’s word. That should amaze us with every kind word extended to us. When it ceases to amaze us, then we should start worrying. 4) Give God all the Glory. The great temptation when complimented about a sermon is to think the fruit of our labors ultimately is about us and because of us. When a kind word is extended to us about our sermon, make sure God is credited and praised. Not superficially, but sincerely. We can give God glory with our lips in response, but inside be welling up with pride. In light of these suggestions, here are a few ways I think it is appropriate to respond to a kind word extended to us after a sermon: “Thank you for your kind words, isn’t God good the way he speaks to each of us through his word.” “Thank you for your encouragement, I am grateful to God he used his word in that way.” “I am grateful you took the time to share the way God’s word has affected you. This passage effected me in similar ways. God is so gracious.” On a future post, I will address this recently asked question: how should a pastor’s wife respond when she is complimented about her husband’s sermon.

Posted in Oversight of Souls, The Pastor's Soul
12 comments on “How should a pastor respond when he is complimented about his sermon?
  1. Hamish says:

    Something I’ve picked up from my Pastor (as a young guy who gets to preach sometimes) is to thank them, and then ask what particularly they found encouraging. It’s helpful both for me, so I know in detail and we can talk about it, and also helpful for them as it avoids a “cheap” encouragement. I remember the first time I thanked him for a sermon as an undergraduate he sprung that on me, and it struck me then that it was a useful thing. Far from discouraging me, it’s meant that since then we’ve been able to have good chats about his sermon, even over the things I’m not sure about as well.

    Thanks for the thoughts! It’s the first time I’ve commented on here, but I really appreciate your wisdom as someone who’s being encouraged into pastoral ministry; a helpfully realistic look at things, even if the culture here in the UK is sometimes quite different… God bless,

    H

    • Ryan Ross says:

      Hamish,

      My pastor does the same thing. I find it very encouraging. He uses those comments to continue the discussion about God’s Word. It also affords him the opportunity, I think, to share thoughts were not necessarily preached in the sermon but were helpful in his preparation and/or understanding of the text. I mean, after all, a sermon is only about 30-40 minutes.

      I appreciate having the opportunity to speak more about the sermon, which helps our family talk about the sermon on the Lord’s Day in a more meaningful way.

  2. rick says:

    It’s kind of like winning the award for humility and wondering if you should pick it up. Sometimes we’re so afraid to be human.

    Anyway, one of the the best (and shortest) responses I’ve heard to a compliment is “Thank you. It’s always so good to hear that”.

    If they want more than that, the congregant should make an appointment.

  3. Greg Demme says:

    One pastor of mine, upon hearing something like that, would thank the person but then always challenge him with something along the lines of, “What was the most meaningful part to you?” or “What helped you the most?”

  4. Tigg Vanaman says:

    Great comments from all the participants – thanks!

    On a humorous note, when complimented sometimes I’ll say, “Well, I have good writers!” But most of the time we can say, “Praise the Lord, Isn’t God’s word rich!” or “We have a great God, don’t we?”

  5. Rick says:

    One of the best preachers around, Ben Cross @ First Baptist Church in Eugene, OR., used to respond to “That was a good sermon” with “Well …. we’ll see.”

  6. Dan Phillips says:

    Well done. Now I just need one on how to answer the question, “How’d it go?”, from someone who wasn’t there. “No casualties were reported” is about the best I’ve come up with.

  7. Ken says:

    Just ask them what time they fell asleep.

  8. Lawson says:

    I like this: “Thank you; you and kind and generous.”

  9. Logan Wolf says:

    This is an area where I usually falter. I really appreciate the advice!

10 Pings/Trackbacks for "How should a pastor respond when he is complimented about his sermon?"
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