Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
By David Wise
This post is actually a few weeks overdue. I first had this thought when we were going through the chapter of The Story dealing with the life of Daniel in exile. I had an idea for the sermon introduction and Denise, our office manager, contributed a different (better) idea, which is what I ended up opening the week with. Yesterday there was another element of contribution from an outside source and it reminded me to give credit where credit is due.
I love preaching and although it’s wonderful receiving praise and positive comments, it’s impossible to give credit to all of the people who influence my sermons each week. The truth is that every sermon is influenced by conversations that I have with people throughout the week. Whether it’s conversations with the staff in the hallway at the church building, structured staff meetings, discussions with the elders, LifeGroup answers given by the people in my group, or class lectures from seminary, there are all sorts of contributions that other people have made.
This is important for me to recognize publicly because sometimes I think we assume that only the one speaking “up front” on a Sunday morning has any platform or opportunity. It’s fitting that just having covered the story of Esther, we come across a thought that has to do with task versus timing. I love preaching and speaking on Sunday mornings, but that doesn’t mean my voice is more important, or even the only voice anointed in our church. I may preach the majority of the sermons in our setting, but those sermons are peppered with the thoughts of people within our church.
Every week I have a few people read the sermon to give feedback before it’s preached on a Sunday morning. That feedback is invaluable in recognizing wording, application, interpretation, theological implications, proof-texting, and all sorts of other elements that play out in the final version. The Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible for the inspiration of sermons, but to assume that I have the “corner on the market” is to miss the ways that God has gifted so many people in our church.
You may never stand up front and preach a sermon, but you still have a voice for God to speak through. You may have stage fright and never desire to speak out loud during a church gather, but God can still use you to minister to others through casual conversations and LifeGroup discussions. You may not feel eloquent or like you know the Bible well enough to teach others, but God has always partnered with people because of their hearts and not their head knowledge. Every sermon that I preach is a testimony to the voices of the people in my life. I have never felt confident, qualified, or eloquent enough, and I hope that I never do. This way I will always rely on the Holy Spirit. Use the voice that God has given you to speak into the lives of others, and for the many of you whom have been faithful in sharing what God is doing, thank you for the ways you have contributed to the sermons for all of God’s people.