Rule #1: Don’t assume that God is necessarily one of the characters in the parable.
Rule #2: Don’t assume that the parable is trying to tell you how to improve your life.
Rule #3: Don’t assume that you’re the goodie in the story (and that other people are the baddies).
Rule #4: If you can explain the whole parable without mentioning the words “kingdom of God,” you’re probably doing it wrong.
Rule #5: If it ends up having anything to do with going to heaven when we die, you’re probably doing it wrong
Rule #6: If Jesus seems more like a headmaster giving orders than like a comedian cracking jokes, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Rule #7: If you feel perfectly confident and untroubled while expounding the parable, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Rule #8: If your sermon on the parable leaves people with nothing to look forward to and nothing to hope for, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Rule #9: Now go back and repeat Rule 3 (because every preacher forgets this at least once in every sermon).
Rule #10: Finally, if you’ve preached a lousy sermon, just remember: as long as the parable was read aloud before you started, it won’t be a total loss.