You see, it’s at the back door that some of the most hurtful words a preacher will ever hear are spoken. It’s at the back door where “grenades” are lobbed, and the preacher has no other choice than to throw himself on them and absorb the blow to protect bystanders. It’s at the back door that the preacher’s knowledge, devotion, and effectiveness are sometimes challenged. And consequently, it’s at the back door that many preachers conclude they’ve had enough and decide to quit.
While I’m not a “Pollyanna,” and don’t want to underestimate the carnage that has taken place at the back door, I believe that far more good than harm is done there.
Trust me; I know the “pain” of the back door.
- There have been times I’ve longed for a word of affirmation, only to be met by 450 silent handshakes. On those occasions, I would have even preferred a “Nice try!” or “Better luck next Sunday” over the silence and indifference I received.
- I’ve stood at the back door while someone attempted to belittle my preaching ability in front of others by saying, in a condescending voice, “You know, you preach on about a fifth-grade level!” On this occasion, I kindly thanked the man for his compliment and left him totally bewildered.
- I’ve had to resist chasing after the occasional “hit and run” assault that leaves you stunned and wondering where that came from.
So I’ve been there and done that. However, I still believe the back door is far more a place of joy than dread. How so? By making the choice to make it so. It’s as simple as changing our perspective. We, as preachers, need to stop remembering every criticism and forgetting the encouragement we receive. We need to quit giving weight to baseless critiques and begin giving weight to the fact that we did our best to speak the truth in love. We need to stop listening to the dissatisfaction of the spiritually immature and start listening more to the evaluation of the spiritually mature.
When we do these things, the “back door” won’t be a place of dread, but of anticipation! Whatever you do, don’t let the back door keep you from preaching the word of God in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-4).