When Your Own Wife Doesn’t Say Anything about Your Sermon

June 21, 2013

I was amused and encouraged by these words from Tim Keller. Evidently I’m not the only one who has these conversations with my wife.

I remember, some years ago, to when I sat down with my wife. You know what that’s like – on the way home – after the sermon. First you are hoping she will say: “Great sermon, honey.” But if she doesn’t say anything, you fear the worst. I remember one day we really got into it. I said “let me ask you, how often do you think it was a great sermon? How many weeks out of the month?” And she said “no more than one in every four or five weeks.” So, we sat down and here’s what she said: “For a good part of your sermon, your sermons are great. They are rational and biblical, and they are exegetical. They show me how I should live, and what I should believe. But every so often – suddenly at the end – Jesus shows up. And when Jesus shows up, it suddenly becomes not a lecture but a sermon for me, because when you say this is what you ought to do, I think to myself, ‘I know, I know, okay. Now I am a little clearer about it and I am a little more guilty about it. Fine.’ But sometimes you get to the place where you say, ‘This is what you ought to do, though you really probably can’t do it; but there is one who did. And because He did it on our behalf, and because He did it in our place, we believe in Him. We will begin to be able to do it.’” This is true only to the degree that we understand what He did for us. And she says: “That’s different. One time out of four or five, your lecture becomes a sermon when Jesus shows up and I want to do that. I have hope. And I begin to see how I can do it.” (Gospel-Centered Ministry: 1 Peter 1:1-12 and 1:22-2:12)

Is it silent in the car on the way home from church? Perhaps it’s time to get some honest feedback from your wife. It may sting a bit. But it may also change your preaching for the better.

Question: Do you ever have these kinds of talks with your wife? If so, what have you learned about preaching from your wife?

Kerry McGonigal

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In Adam by birth but in Christ by grace. That's my story. Husband to one and father of three. Pastor, homiletics teacher, and passionate proponent of expository preaching. If you like what you've read and want to be notified of future posts, take a second and subscribe via RSS or email (on the right sidebar). Opinions expressed here are my own.

One response to When Your Own Wife Doesn’t Say Anything about Your Sermon

  1. Let me go ahead and start the conversation. My wife is my greatest resource for honest feedback. Typically she will begin by saying “Good sermon. Just a few things . . .” (At this point I brace myself.) Her comments, however, are always insightful and nearly always spot on. Not necessarily from a doctrinal standpoint. But from a very practical one. She gives me the perspective of the average person in the pew not the viewpoint of an academician or theologian. That’s what I need–desperately so. Here’s one thing she keep telling me and I keep working on. “You need more visual hooks to hang the truth on.” Great advice for someone who tends to be abstract, theoretical, and philosophical. And guess what? I think my messages are the better for having listened to her. But I guess I’ll let her be the judge of that. 🙂