Each Sermon Better Than The One Before?

preacher“Pastor, your sermon today was the best I think I’ve ever heard you preach.” I receive such a compliment with mixed feelings. Yes, I’m glad the person got so much out of the message. On the other hand, I don’t want to be preaching to impress people. I’m also immediately prompted to think, “So does that mean I have to top this week’s message next week?” That’s pressure I don’t want to have to live with.

True, I want to continue to grow as a proclaimer of God’s Word. I hope I’m better at the task this year than I was last year, and that I’ll be better at it next year compared to this year. However, I’ve had to guard myself from the trap of trying to make each sermon better than the last one – it’s unsustainable.

The reality is that a great sermon to one parishioner is just an average sermon to another parishioner. Everyone is different, at a different place in their spiritual walk, and God speaks to everyone differently.

I want every message I deliver to be good, but I’m not necessarily aiming at it being better than last week’s (unless I feel I really bombed). We try to prepare tasty and nutritious meals in our home, but I don’t remember what we had for dinner a week ago Tuesday, though the food was nourishment for our bodies. I don’t expect my parishioners to remember every sermon I preach (I sure don’t), but my prayer is that I’m providing consistent spiritual nourishment.

I want to take the apostle Paul’s admonition to the young pastor Timothy to heart. “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Faithful, not flashy, preaching is what I want to aim for.

2 Responses to Each Sermon Better Than The One Before?

  1. Hi David,
    I have begun to take that statement about preaching ‘the best sermon so far’ as an indication that the relationship between myself and the congregation is deepening, and as we go deeper into the faith together, things that are said from the pulpit begin to resonate more deeply over time. Like you, I am always deeply conflicted when I hear it. In my mind, I give glory to God. To the person, I give a sincere ‘Thank you’. Then I work very hard to forget about it so I can be faithful to the Word for the coming week. But I don’t need to tell you any of this. I am still learning and am a Timothy to your experience.

  2. Dave says:

    I think you’re right,revsethewriting, that the relationship is deepening. Thanks for your insights!

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