When farmers get together, they talk about tractors. When oil field workers get together, they talk about oil wells. When pastors get together, they talk about sermons.
Other things may come up, but it always comes back to the one thing that defines the profession more than anything else.
Pastor’s always have stories to tell about the sermons they preach: they love talking about how hard they hit people with the Law one particular Sunday. Many pastors will try to outdo one another in talking about the nuances of a Greek or Hebrew word in the text that they studied. Nothing makes a pastor beam brighter than when they talk about how they applied the Gospel to the people in the pews on a Sunday after a particularly noteworthy occurrence.
Some sermons stick with you for a long time, that one Sunday where the text provided the perfect Law and Gospel the congregation needed to hear, and it was a sermon that people reflected upon throughout the week. That is the preachers white whale; the sermon that comes together perfectly, and then is heard by the people who need to hear it most.
Pastors don’t listen to sermons very well; always too busy thinking about their own; kind of like playing fantasy baseball: who cares about your team, let me tell you all about mine.
But then again, pastors are always looking for insights into a text, always looking for illustrations that might help better apply Law and Gospel. It is why I go to so many movies and watch television a little too much; it is also why I take the time to read the sermons of others, to see what they did.
Not everyone always gets what goes into a sermon; I know after I hear a tractor story, I am tempted to just say: wow, so they painted it green, huh? To the farmer I am a bumbling city boy who gets lost in a paper bag, but without that tractor, the harvests are not likely to come in, providing food for me and all the others who miss out on the finer points of the make and model of a particular tractor.
Hearing someone say ‘that was nice’ after a most amazing sermon that I toiled over until late Saturday afternoon is heartbreaking at times, but you also know that without that sermon, the person would probably starve a slow spiritual death. They are not necessarily worried about the 18 rough drafts and the hundred or so ideas that went out the window; they just know that when they arrived in church that morning, a sermon expounding on the riches of God was waiting for them.
So when pastors get together, they talk about sermons. Pastors understand what all goes into crafting a sermon; pastors know the proverbial search for that great white whale of a perfect sermon.
Pastors talk about sermons, even when they should actually be working on them.