Greetings, my son in the Lord-
You are one of my greatest joys as I watch you intentionally shaping your thoughts and behavior to what our Lord wants for you. I’ve always attempted to lead you to following Jesus instead of following me because I believe God has a unique pattern for each individual. But my life is fulfilled each time I find younger men and women who have the same heart’s desire that I have to follow Jesus with all that I am and all that I have.
I have never consciously attempted to set a good example to you in order to impress you. My motivation for doing what’s right has always been because I know our Lord is watching me, and my highest goal since you’ve known me is to make Him smile with pleasure at what He sees in my thoughts, words, and actions. I pray that at the end of your life you bring a smile of joy on His face.
Much of what you’ve observed in my behavior or heard me say has been a result of four or five key insights the Lord has driven deep into my heart during Bible study times. Those lessons still resonate in my heart and I’d like to pass on to you some that I consider the most important to me.
I remember wondering “What should I teach new Christians to do the rest of their lives after they initially accept Christ as savior?” It’s character development; God wants us to develop the same character qualities that He has. But, until I read 2 Peter 1:1-10, I mistakenly thought that I could be passive and those fruit of the Spirit would automatically blossom and mature in me. I was wrong. Every believer should “diligently” set his heart at becoming like Christ. I’m still at it.
You and I are a rare breed when we measure how we do church and how we practice Christianity by continually aligning it with the Bible. But the apostle Paul set the bar even higher by saying we should “rightly divide” the Word. That is what motivated me to get seminary training; as a young man I felt God leading me into ministry but I was scared with the responsibility of people putting their eternal spiritual lives in my hands. I didn’t want the responsibility of leading the lives of my followers based on second-hand study of the Bible; I felt obligated to be as accurate as possible in knowing what the writer of scriptures intended. With a heart like yours of Jesus first, formal Bible training will give you the confidence that you are not leading people to merely be following man made ideas.
Two words have shaped my leadership style: the word “brethren” and the word “husband”. Over the years I have become convinced of the value of a “team approach” to leadership. Our fellowship of churches has not yet found a more current name to identify us than the ancient word ‘Brethren’; but the message of that name still remains; that message being that every leader needs to consider himself only one among a team of equal brothers. The name ‘Brethren’ reminds me to not be a solo leader in the church. Likewise as a husband is directed in scripture to be the type of leader in his home who is not a bossy king, he is to share his leadership of the home with his wife. If you treat your wife as a co-leader and those in your ministry as leadership partners, I believe they will have a sense of ownership and their contribution will multiply what you are able to accomplish.
Like the apostle Paul’s disciple Timothy, I had a heritage advantage before entering the ministry; I had been taught scripture as a child, and had parents who modeled Christian integrity. But God also placed a passion in my heart to spend hours memorizing chunks of the Bible, to spend years studying it in formal training, and then spend my down time pondering and meditating on how to use that message to help others understand it and live life by it. I hope you’ve seen the value in my heart to know and understand God’s Word and that you will pursue your ministry with that same passion.