My dear son,
I realize you will be serving Christ in a world far different than the one where I was trained and first released into ministry. Your methods, your dress, your vocabulary, the technologies you use and even the problems you face may have little in common with the world I knew, or even the world in which we both minister today. You will be a faithful servant of Christ not because you mimic my words or imitate my ministry style, but because you live out the timeless values we share – values that come to us from the Word of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So while I still have the opportunity, I want to take a few minutes to summarize in writing the values and life lessons I have attempted to live out before you and most want to pass on to you…
Most importantly, trust God! Believe what God has revealed in the Bible. Be courageous, and don’t be discouraged. Believe God himself, not any religious system. Pray continually, since you know that he hears and cares and is able to work strongly on your behalf. Believe and accept God’s grace! Trust God!
Secondly, please God! Obey him, regardless the cost. Be self-disciplined. If God gives you a hard or difficult task, have the physical strength, the emotional depth and the personal discipline to be able to obey. If God doesn’t speak to you and give specific guidance, then know that he is trusting you to use your head. Prayerfully set goals in harmony with God’s Word – things you know would please God and make Jesus proud – then do them with all your heart. Please God!
Third, love your family and your people. Your brains and skills don’t accomplish anything eternal without love. Respect each person and have high expectations of how God will bless and use him. Be a rock people can count on, add some fun, and be honest. Avoid pretending a role – be real. Help your family and your small group bloom and grow in faith. Lead them to be secure in Christ and not to need you. Real love is supernatural, the work of the Holy Spirit through you, so love!
Only two more … Never give up your integrity. Walking in the light is the way John described integrity. Be honest. Have proper motivations and open relationships. Never fear correction, no matter how many times you have taken a stand. Integrity cannot survive without having safe places, still times, and special friends to fuel your passions and to let God remind you why he picked you for special service. Never give up your integrity.
Finally, know God’s Word. The Lord threatened to kill my great-grandfather because he was neglecting God’s Word – he hadn’t even read all of it, but had studied all sorts of other books through seminary. From that day he became focused on one Book and God blessed his ministry. Become an expert on one thing – God’s Word. Read it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Outline it. Systematize it. Without the previous four values, God’s Word will be dead to you. But come to God’s Word out of faith, obedience, love, and integrity and God will transform your mind in the truth. Know it … so you can know God. He is our Salvation. Praise his name!