Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I’m taking a seminary class on preaching because it is required for my degree and because it is something I enjoy… or at least I thought I enjoyed. The professor allowed me to use my previous seminary course to take the place of preaching 101 so I didn’t have to retake it- though I had to read his 100 page teaching manuscript and take notes on it. I did this.

The next course is 102, in which you give two teachings to a group of seminary students as the main focus of the course. He is allowing me to do this in an independent study format with him instead. So, I gave him a DVD of my last 2 teachings at Journey in the main service and we’ve been meeting to review them. 2 weeks ago we met and he told me all the things I did wrong in my summer teaching. He was unhappy with my speed, my volume, my hand in my pocket… etc. He said a lot of stuff I’ve had others say in the past… I thought I’d made major moves in the right direction. But evidently I had a lot of work to do still. I believed most of his concerns would be different in my next message.

Today I met with him about my teaching 6 weeks ago. (Side bar: at our church, I got more positive remarks from that teaching than any other I have given in recent years in any context. Our teaching pastor listened to the CD of the service and then gave me the most encouraging one sentence e-mail evaluation I’ve ever received in ministry. In the hallway, he then told me to tuck it away if I ever needed to use one in the future for a guest teaching. He loved it.) I secretly hoped my professor would be more encouraging and affirm it as quality work. Well… not so much. He started our meeting with the words, “I don’t want to discourage you.” He then ripped it apart. Didn’t like my observations in the text. Didn’t see the point in some of my illustrations. Rewrote my outline. Didn’t like how I read my Bible. Pretty much 1 page of “atta boys” and 3 pages of cutting.

I’m trying hard to be a learner. I’m trying hard not to be too defensive and to live my previous blog post in real time. I really want the constructive criticism. I want to be coached and go from an average communicator (or whatever I am) to a master at the craft. I’d love that. I’ll admit that correcting my teaching is complicated emotionally cuz it’s like coaching my parenting… I really want help but most of it extends from who I am. So, any correction also has large teeth by default and I’m pretty vulnerable as my own worst critic anyway. But we disagree on a lot- philosophically and otherwise and this coaching is hard and I evidently don’t get to pick my coach.

Next week I’m supposed to prepare my weekend teaching to high school students with him so he can see how I put a talk together. I feel like I’m 15 again. I also feel like maybe I should have been a contractor instead of a youth pastor. I’d have a reason to buy new tools and write them off. I might be richer. I’d work from 7am to 4pm. I would not feel like dirt right now.

Ok.. pity party now over. I’m going to go lick my wounds. Take a shower. Ask God if there’s any truth in these statements. I’ll also put my contractor application down and step up to the preaching plate again 5 days from now in front of some high school students. Maybe I’ll sacrifice bunt 🙂


  1. learner — yes, that’s good.

    improving your teaching and preaching — yup. check. that would be great.

    making the most of a seminary class you have to take — sure. it only makes sense.

    now, all that aside, do you have any idea whether this guy’s approach to preaching is one you want to shape yours? seriously – i’ve spent years UNLEARNING some downright awful stuff i’ve been taught. be careful what you allow to influence you. the very fact that he started with your volume and your hand in your pocket GREATLY concerns me.

  2. no,I have never heard this guy teach and hence… part of the bogus nature of the homiletics class from soomeone you don’t know. It’s like taking cooking from someone who you’ve never tasted their food or even heard from others about it. Just the only one who teaches the class at my school, so I’m stuck.

    Based on the outline he gave me of what he thought my message should have been structured like, we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, I’m trying to learn what I can from him wisely. We will likely have to agree to disagree on several points. Thanks for the caution and the voice of experience. I re-talked this stuff over with Ed too and let him read his 4 page review of my talk and got his perspective again… so that was helpful too.

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