8 Surprising Things that Church Members Noted about Me

Over my years of ministry, I’ve been surprised by things that church people have noted about me (especially during preaching) and pointed out. I write about them today not because I was ultimately offended, but because I’m probably a better gospel minister today in some ways because these folks were so honest with me. Here are some of those things:

  1. My shoes needed polishing. Like, desperately so. I’m not sure I had ever polished my Sunday shoes until a deacon I deeply respected (and a former military guy) pointed out how bad they looked. 
  2. I wasn’t wearing my wedding band. I had taken it off for some reason prior to church that Sunday, and I inadvertently left the house without it. In a church with more than 1000 attenders, one wife in the room noted from her screen view that I was not wearing the band. I’ve never forgotten it since then. 
  3. My shirt needed ironing. To be honest, I hadn’t ironed my shirts any more than I had shined my shoes. I didn’t realize how wrinkled they were until I started ironing them. 
  4. I had preached the text before. It wasn’t the same sermon, but it was the same text. A church member (more than one, actually, I would learn later) noted in her Bible every Sunday what text I preached. Over the years, I began pointing out when I knew I had preached the same text in a church. 
  5. It was always a good thing to keep breath mints in my pocket. was offended at first when this church member talked to me, but I grew to understand how much he loved me as his pastor. He was just being honest. 
  6. I talked too fast when preaching. This was early in my ministry, and any pause in my words felt like an eternity. I had not yet learned that strategic pauses can, in fact, be helpful. 
  7. You’re not supposed to button the third button on a three-button suitcoat. I admit this was a long time ago (like, when such a suitcoat was in style…). You can tell from this post, though, that I still remember this rule. 
  8. I used the word “irregardless” a lot. I prided myself on my use of the English language, but I also loved this word – a word that is, in fact, not the best English. I just didn’t know about that problem at the time. 

Preachers, what surprising things have others pointed out about you?  

10 Comments

  • Bill Pitcher says:

    For years I have worked hard against a habit of closing my eyes as I spoke. I had laughed it off as “looking at the set of notes burned on the inside of my eyelids.” I actually thought I’d beaten it; but one of my deacons called me up short on it one day.
    Like you, proper use of the language is a big thing with me; but I cringe when I catch myself in a major language error. If I can’t handle the language rightly, why should my folks trust me with the text I’m preaching?

  • John W Carlton says:

    My wife pointed out that many times I acted like I was angry while preaching. I hope that I have conquered this. She also noted that there were times when I would run a trite saying into the ground. One was, “It’s from the pits of Hell and smells like smoke.”

  • Mike Miller says:

    That I didn’t smile enough. I think as a young man I was taking myself too seriously. This made me seem angry at times an arrogant at others. Not serious or passionate, just angry or arrogant. Not a good demeanor for a preacher.

    That I rubbed my itchy nose too much. Can I just say that it’s really hard not to rub an itchy nose, but I’ve learned how to overcome it.

  • Sam Bunnell says:

    My wife is my biggest encourager, and she’s also pointed out my biggest flaws in preaching. I also hear them when I listen to recordings. First, I have these frequent little nervous chuckles when I’m saying anything remotely humorous. Super cringe-worthy. Also when I use too informal language/slang words, it’s far less effective in reality than it was in my head.

  • Jeannette says:

    One of the best things I like about my pastor is he uses ‘you and I ‘ ; he isn’t above the parishioners. Along with that, he encourages us to follow along in our Bible (or the pew Bible), ‘so you can read it for yourself what the Bible says’.
    He also dresses sharp-not in shorts or men’s sandals, no matter how hot it is; always a shirt and tie.

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