Encouragement From The Word

Taking (the Wrong) Notes

            Recently, I was sitting in a worship gathering among people who have been called to leadership in God’s kingdom.  Not all were clergy.  The leader of the devotional time was preaching his heart out, and as I listened, I noticed a woman sitting in front of me, furiously taking notes.


            Normally, this is the sort of thing that encourages the heart of any preacher.  Seeing someone take notes on our preaching makes us think that there may be hope for the future!  But we were seated in such a way that I could easily see what the woman was writing, without being nosy. 


            She was writing out a menu plan, and a grocery list.  At length.


            As you might imagine, my heart sank.  The encouragement that I had felt in seeing someone so well engaged in the message being preached turned to sorrow, that someone who was supposed to be a leader in the kingdom of God was, in fact, so disengaged with the preaching of the Word that her Sunday dinner was of greater importance.


            It’s not a sin to have the mind wander when we are engaged in spiritual things; it’s why, for example, I like to keep a scratch pad handy when I’m praying, because inevitably, the Enemy will seek to distract me from my conversation with the Lord.  When something irrelevant to my act of worship pops into my mind, I can write it down, and forget about it until later.


            True, there are some messages and some preachers whose droning does not warrant taking notes, but if we truly believe God can speak, possibly in spite of the words of the speaker, we do well to give our complete attention.


            The world offers us plenty of distractions from the work of God; that’s not a bad reminder to receive on October 31, a day that has been made nigh unto religious by some folks.  I encourage you to do all you can to be attentive to the Scriptures, and to their exposition.  Jesus said, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10.27, NLT).  When we hear the Word of the Lord, let’s give it our full attention.  Ultimately, nothing matters more.

3 thoughts on “Taking (the Wrong) Notes”

  1. This reminds of a piece of advice I heard while attending St Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Ottawa: “Do you want a better minister? More inspiring sermons? You don’t have to mount a search committee. Just take notes!”

    As someone who often takes notes during sermons, I have had other people come up to me after service and say that they would like to take notes, but feel it is socially gauche. I am glad to see you encourage us note takers.

  2. Greg, keep up the note-taking! How many PDAs have you worn out with your copious note-taking, in various contexts? 🙂 It really does encourage the preacher, and it’s a good reminder to the preacher that people are listening, are paying attention, are applying what they hear – so we preachers do well to make sure we’re biblically accurate in what we say.

    I guess it depends on the tradition from which we come to see note-taking as socially gauche. In some churches, they look askance at you if you don’t take notes! I guess it’s like bringing one’s Bible to church. Common in some places, not in others.

    God’s best! — Jeff

  3. sometimes, such notetaking could be Spirit-led! 🙂
    I’ve taken notes from the pews for 30-plus years, and agree with Greg!
    I’ve had the opportunity to inquire, clarify, and be further inspired by taking such notes–only if my eyesight (tiny print) and writing (chicken scratch) would co-operate, I’d be able to re-read!

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