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 works 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…
Keep watch over yourself first of all, because your life will either authenticate or do damage to your message and ministry.
Then keep diligent watch over the flock of God. Following Christ’s example of shepherding well the flock given to him, being willing to even lay down His life has been the template for my life and ministry. This church has been bought with the precious blood of Christ, so the stakes are very high. That sacrifice that that has been made and the message of that sacrifice must stay central. All the blessings we enjoy as being part of God’s family flow from that sacrifice. Don’t ever forget that or divert from it, regardless of what the culture may pressure you to do.
Remember the things that brought me to tears repeatedly as I saw the godless culture enter the church and influence precious sheep to make self-destructive choices, based on a faulty understanding of the cross. Again, stay faithful to that message and be on the lookout for those who will shade that message just a little bit, and in so doing, will take your message and ministry down a dangerous path.
Stay faithful to the Word of God’s Grace. That message that has brought reconciliation to us by no work on our own is as essential for believers as unbelievers, because daily we are tempted to try to attain our goals by the flesh instead of the spirit (Gal 3:1-3). Stay daily in that Word, journal, and make sure you are drinking from that well first before attempting to teach others about that Word. Then confidently communicate that Word with Authority.
Don’t be afraid to work hard at this. You must work hard at it. It is your life. The church of Christ is dependent on your diligence, understanding that your power and motivation come from the Holy Spirit. Hopefully you will remember the example I have tried to set in pouring my life energies into this noble work.
And please don’t forget the words of Jesus who said it is more blessed to give than receive. Love God; love others. Keep the two in balance.
God be with you, my son. I have all the confidence that God will complete this good work through you in your generation that He has graciously granted in my life. To God be glory