Preaching and Who Gets The Glory

Preaching and Who Gets the Glory

Last week I had the privilege of preaching on Pentecost.  What a great day to be able to present the story of the birth of the church!  However, while preparing for this message, I once again had to confront the relationship between preaching and who gets the glory from the worship event.  I’ve reflected before in this blog on the fact that who you are will impact how your message is received.  But there are times when I get in the way of God receiving the glory.  Let me share my struggle.

Preparing to Preach

I read the Pentecost event in Acts 1 and 2, and decided that the theme of the message was going to be Acts 1:7-8.  The disciples showed their complete misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission when they ask him in verse 6,

Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?

Jesus’ response is this:

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. (vss. 7, 8) 

I got excited as I read material about this promise of Jesus.  There was so much to share about how the people prepared for power by choosing another witness and by remaining constantly in prayer.  In another setting we can discuss whether choosing Matthias as the 12th disciple was the right thing to do.  There are many who believe this was a mistake, that Paul was Jesus’ choice to be that disciple.  But either way, they wanted to be a full complement to receive the power.

The Problem of Preaching and Who Gets the Glory

As I put the sermon together, it seemed to fall seamlessly into place.  I was going to talk about the power that came, that the church grew by 3000 with one simple sermon by Peter, and then grew to 5000 a short time later.  Miracles happened as a result of the prayers of God’s people.

I transitioned into the question, “Where’s the power today?”  I showed them statistics on the decline of the Church in the US in numbers and influence.

Then I challenged them to pray for power.  It was a good sermon, one that would hold peoples’ attention and give them action points and hope for power.

Then I found the perfect ending.  It was a quote from another preacher that would galvanize all that I had said up to that point and would bring the message from something good to something great.  It was going to be a great sermon!

I anticipated the peoples’ response.  They would be blown away.  And they would think that I was a great preacher.

That was the problem.  As I prayed my usual preparation prayers for preaching over the week, God spoke to me.  He said that I was more concerned that the people would think that I was a great preacher than that they would experience the presence and power of God.

That’s the problem of preaching and who gets the glory for the preaching event.

The Challenging Choice

Book by Alistair Begg

God has made it clear that he will not share his glory with anyone; not even with a preacher.  Consider these two passages from Isaiah:

Isaiah 42:8

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.

Isaiah 48:11:

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.

Or this passage from John 15:8

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

In other words, when I fulfill God’s calling in my life as a preacher, HE is to get the glory, not me.  That is the challenging dilemma of preaching and who gets the glory for the message given.

How To Address The Problem of Preaching and Who Gets the Glory

This is not an easy thing.  I have found that confession to God that I really want his glory helps.  It helps to ask him to purify our motives.  And it helps to cast glory that is given back to God when people come to you after a worship service and tell you how good a sermon it was.  Here’s a link to a sermon by Stephen Belokur in which he identifies this struggle.

And here’s a link to a message from John Piper on this same theme.

Check out what these two servants have to say.

Know that this will be a challenge for you if you preach well.  Remind yourself each week that our very existence is to reflect God’s glory.

This is the challenge of preaching and who gets the glory for the results.