The best advice I've ever received in ministry came from a Pastor from Flint who told me, "Some people put me way up here on a pedestal. Others," he said, moving his hand down close to the floor, "put me down here. The truth is, I'm not as good as some say I am, and I'm not as bad as others claim."
He's right. For the majority of us in ministry, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I reminded myself of that this morning when a parishoner stopped me after services, shook my hand vigorously and said, "Pastor, that was your best sermon ever. I just had to tell you."
Okay... but frankly I thought it fell somewhere short of mediocre. I struggled this week with the subject, and eventually decided on "City on a Hill" from the book of Matthew. I prayed, I studied, cross-referenced, prayed some more and did the best I could. Trusting that God's word doesn't return void, I placed my best effort in His hands. Apparently God had something important to say, and through my human efforts, He said it. That never ever ceases to amaze me. Ask me what my favorite sermon is, and I wouldn't hesitate to answer. It was a message I toiled over, prayed over, and lost sleep over called, "To Build A Wall." In my mind, that sermon was a home run. Yeah, in MY mind. The response was somewhat, well... mediocre.
I have a habit of garbling my speech, making up some crazy new words, and digging myself into embarrassing holes, while the congregation has a good laugh as I try (sometimes in vain) to claw my way out. Yet somehow, some way, God manages to touch lives. He's good like that. He uses extremely imperfect people to work out His perfect plans.
Only my God is that good. Only He deserves to be way up there on that pedestal.