I’ve got a friend who probably does more preaching in two months than I’ll do in a year. He’s gifted, hard working and intelligent. Every now and then I get to hear him preach, and every now and then he gets to hear me preach. Here’s what I hear from him after I’ve spoken.
“Buddy, that was great. I heard you were speaking so I came. I loved it.”
He’s a positive guy, but he also takes preaching seriously. I know he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. When I look out from the stage I see him leaning in, attentive, in the moment. He’s chosen to be encouraging, but he’s also chosen to be teachable.
I’ve learned a lot from watching others, we all have. Here’s just a few reasons preachers and teachers should be teachable, particularly when listening to other teachers and preachers.
1. Listeners are good teachers
Before we learned to speak, we learned to listen. We listened to those around us as children and they taught us the words by which we now express ourselves. A posture of listening (both to other preachers, and those you preach to) is wise and will serve us well in any context. “I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people don’t listen.” –Earnest Hemingway
2. Encouragement is good for the soul
“Sit in room and listen to someone preach the way you would like others to sit in a room and listen to you preach.” This should be our golden rule of preaching. What’s our posture? Attentive, notebook out, aware…or are we in the back row zoned out on Instagram? Are we taking the chance to encourage the person preaching? Send an email, give them a pat on that back. Even if you didn’t just rededicate your life back to Jesus because of the sermon, at least say, “Thanks for sticking your neck out. I know how much that just took, so thanks for the sweat and tears.”
3. We’re always preaching
If you’re a preacher/teacher/student/leader…if you have any kind of influence at all, people are watching you during a teaching or sermon, even when you’re not the centre of attention . They’re not only taking notes on the preacher, they’re taking notes on you. Are we attentive? Are we honoring the other preacher? Are we taking notes? When those we’re leading see that we’re not just able to be but interested in being led, they might be more interested in following.
4. We’ve got a lot to learn
Almost every time I preach I re-learn a humbling lesson: I’m not God’s gift to preaching. As good as we think we are, there’s been someone better, or there will be. Most of us realize this a few hours after we’ve spoken. We’re not that secure. Why, then (when we’re not the ones preaching) do we choose to hold others to a ridiculous standard of excellence we’re not even living up to? Is our criticism constructive, or are we pulling others down in a petty attempt to elevate ourselves? Why not reorganize we haven’t got all the answers and enjoy being taught? This is a moment when we can receive, we can allow the Word and the Spirit to transform and challenge us. Let’s take advantage of it!