In the tough, early years of my ministry, I thought I was the patient one. I was enduring through the criticisms, judgments, and actions to remove me. I was being the bigger, more faithful person. As the years have passed, I have realized in a lot of ways more and more that it was the other way around. These long-time faithful saints wounded by previous pastors for decades were being patient with me.
Specifically, they were being patient with me as I grew as a preacher. There was this 85 year old widow, Betty, who used to lecture me about my preaching in the early years. She was the only one who actually came to me to tell me she didn’t like my preaching and why. I dismissed what she said…
Eight years later, she proved to be right on every criticism about my preaching and where I needed to grow.
I woke up one day after years of laboring to stretch myself to grow in preaching to suddenly realized I had made the changes that she suggested years before. In summary, she challenged me to engage my heart in preaching, not just my head.
Betty loves to hear me tell that story. Even more, she loves to hear me preach now. She as well as others were patient with me in those early years, especially with my preaching. Pastors, your older members are a gift, not a burden.
One of the ways they can serve you is to help you grow as a preacher.
Many of them have experienced much in church life, including good and bad sermons. If they do nothing else with their imperfect feedback, they at least communicate to you how to reach them with the word. Pastors, you will want to know how to do that.