Permit me to persist in quoting from James Stewart’s, Heralds of God, although only briefly this time (p190):
“Preaching,” inquires Bishop Quayle, “is the art of making a sermon and delivering it?” – and he answers his own question: “Why, no, that is not preaching. Preaching is the art of making a preacher and delivering that. It is no trouble to preach, but a vast trouble to construct a preacher.”
I suspect this is a tension every homiletics instructor feels deeply. It is possible to instruct the method of passage exegesis, sermon formation and effective delivery. But what does it take to form a preacher? Surely that is a lifetime work of God Himself. A couple of comments to ponder:
Are you a preacher, or do you just preach? That is to say, does your life live up to the ministry you give from the pulpit? Are you continuing to grow, to be shaped, to pursue maturity while resting in God’s work to shape you into the image of His Son? Have you been so committed to studying preaching and ministry and hermeneutics and theology, but lost direction in your personal spirituality?
Are you pouring into the lives of other potential preachers, even long before they ever preach? Again I raise the issue of mentoring. How can we claim to be involved in biblical ministry if we do not actively pursue opportunity to mentor others? A preacher is not made in the course of a training course, although I affirm the value of good training as a good steward seeking to fan into flame the opportunity and gifting God has given. A preacher is made in the course of a lifetime. Let’s look with a long-term, strategic view . . . how can we invest ourselves into others? It’s not ultimately about skill formation, but character formation, spiritual formation, life.
Let me encourage all of us to look for ways to help others develop in the necessary skills required for preaching. But let’s also look with a greater goal, for ways to help shape the lives of those who can then minister (in whatever form) to others. This is the vaster trouble, but surely the greater goal.