When someone says to me, “Chuck . . . I got a lot out of the message,” I usually try to respond in a way that allows him or her to be more specific.
After I say, “Thank you, I’m glad it was helpful,” I’ll usually ask, “Did it make sense?”
“How did it make sense?” I’ll probe. It’s very interesting to hear people say, “Well, in this way . . .” I find that their response often connects just as I had intended. And that’s a good feeling.
But it’s a terrible feeling when they tell you something quite the opposite of what you intended.
I’ll never forget my preaching on divorce one time to a large congregation in Texas. In my preparation, I really worked through the issue meticulously and carefully, because I knew it was a serious concern to them. In fact, the pastor had asked me if I would address it. So here I was, the out-of-town speaker solving their problems! When I finished the message—after speaking very carefully for about fifty minutes—I felt like it was communicated clearly. As I was standing in the back, a lady came up to me and said, “Now, I just want to be sure that I got it.” She then described to me the opposite of what I had been trying to say! I don’t think I’ve ever been so stunned with the realization that you can think you’re communicating clearly . . . when in fact they’re getting something quite different.
So, I think it’s good—even essential—for you as a pastor to ask, “Now, what do you think I’ve been saying today?” Be ready for a surprise! Try to preserve their faces in your mind as you hear them say something totally different than what you were trying to say.
Humbling, you know. But feedback is essential. Please welcome it.