Sound Advice For Young Preachers… (and older ones too)

I’ve been drawn to the sermons and writing of Spurgeon for many years, there’s something about the way he says things that seems to turn written words into an audible barrage that strikes against my soul.

So when I read recently Matthew Molesky’s article, I’d like to help you criticize your Pastor, I thoroughly enjoyed Spurgeon’s advice; it seemed that he and I were sitting together beside a fire sharing life’s lessons.

A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it.

When I was preaching at the Surrey Gardens, an unknown censor of great ability used to send me a weekly list of my mispronunciations and other slips of speech. He never signed his name, and that was my only cause of complaint against him, for he left me in a debt which I could not acknowledge. I take this opportunity of confessing my obligations to him, for with genial temper, and an evident desire to benefit me, he marked down most relentlessly everything which he supposed me to have said incorrectly. Concerning some of these corrections he was in error himself, but for the most part he was right, and his remarks enabled me to perceive and avoid many mistakes. I looked for his weekly memoranda with much interest, and I trust I am all the better for them.

If I had repeated a sentence two or three Sundays before, he would say, “See same expression in such a sermon,” mentioning number and page. He remarked on one occasion that I too often quoted the line, “Nothing in my hands I bring,” and then he added, “We are sufficiently informed of the vacuity of your hands.” He demanded my authority for calling a man covetous; and so on.

Possibly some young men might have been discouraged, if not irritated, by such severe criticisms, but they would have been very foolish, for in resenting such correction they would have been throwing away a valuable aid to progress. No money can purchase outspoken, honest judgment, and when we can get it for nothing let us utilize it to the fullest extent. The worst of it is that of those who offer their judgement few are qualified to form them, and we shall be pestered with foolish, impertinent remarks, unless we turn to them all the blind eye and the deaf ear.

Now that’s sound advice. Thank you Mr Spurgeon.


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