The single oddest response I ever received after a sermon (true story) came from a man I had never met.

"Excuse me," he said, "Do you mind if I disturb you for a moment?"

"No," I said.

He put his thumbs in his ears, wiggled his fingers wildly, and made a noise that sounded like Ruga Ruga Ruga. Then he walked away. I haven't seen him since.

It was the oddest response I have received, but not the worst. The moments after preaching are an unusually vulnerable time. All preachers want their sermons to be about something more important than their own performance. And yet the messenger is enmeshed with the message; it takes a little time for the sermon to go off and sink or swim on its own and leave the preacher alone.

Everyone who preaches must come to grips with post-sermon comments. So without further ado, I present to you my top five most hated comments to receive after a sermon.

1. "Your preaching has improved." Sometimes when I hear this one it is strengthened by enthusiasm; your preaching has really improved. I think this comment is generally intended as a compliment, but it's hard to say. Certainly it carries the message that your previous sermons left plenty of room for improvement. Lots of horrible things may be improving—Charles Barkley's golf swing, movies in the Twilight series—but I still don't want to watch them. On the other hand, it's better than hearing, "Your preaching has really gone downhill."

2. "I'm so glad you said 'X'." But in fact you didn't say "X"; you were trying to say the opposite of "X." It makes you wonder what sermon they were listening to. I once spoke about ...

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