I have always been shy about compliments to my preaching. I have a hard time receiving them even on weeks when I think everything went well and God showered us all with his presence and grace. At the same time, I am fast to hear the negative comments. I wonder why the criticisms cut so much deeper than the compliments?
In preaching the Word I trust God. I pray, I wait for and gratefully accept inspiration, I declare theologically that what comes from the pulpit comes from God and any effectiveness in preaching is a gift from the Holy Spirit. The problem is this: theologically all acclaim for decent preaching goes to God. The glory of the spoken word all belongs to God. This makes compliments feel misplaced, and if I say something like, “Yes God really showed up today!” that sounds both trite and goofily modest, and anyways doesn’t he always?
If good preaching comes from God where does bad preaching come from? I believe God always shows up and he can redeem any moment. Still, there is something about bad preaching that suddenly, crushingly, makes the process about me. Did I study enough? Did I pray enough? Did I listen to God and to commentaries enough? Did I really preach it to me before I preached it to others…you see what is happening here, right?