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 & 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 & 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 & life lessons I have attempted to live out before you and most want to pass on to you…
First, never forget your first love. Your will be tempted to be lulled into the deceit that busy-ness in the ministry is fulfillment of your call. Your must reject this. Revel, rather, in your Savior. Worship your Redeemer. Serve your Father as a chosen and adopted son, seeking to bring joy to His heart, not out of raw obligation but from a deep place in your soul where you long to please the One who has bought you back from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light.
Also, my son, drink deeply of the Word of God. Rest upon it for the source of all your wisdom. Filter every decision you make, every direction you take, through the lens of it’s discerning eye. You will be tempted to shy away from it when it says hard things. But be brave and very courageous. You will be tempted to add to its authority some of your own conclusions and interpretations. Guard fervently against this. You will be tempted to begin to see the Word as a tool for ministry rather than the very words of our Creator God, eternal and life-giving. Revere them and cling to them. Your will be tempted, as well, to worship the words of Scripture rather than their Speaker. You must worship the Lord your God and Him alone … turn not His revelation into an idol.
In all you do, preach and proclaim the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. This is the deposit entrusted to us, this is the ministry we have been given. Let you not preach the Word without proclaiming the Gospel that it contains. Do not be ashamed of it. Do not think that you must somehow add to its message or that your manifestation of its truth is what saves those to whom it is preached. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts hearts in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgement … it is you who is called to open your mouth and loose your tongue to speak the words of the Good News. And shy not away from the Bad News, understanding that the depth of the graveness of our sin is what makes the Good News so good.
Finally, my son, add not to the offense of the Gospel, seek instead to remove anything in us or our proclamation that hinders the hearers from facing the gravity of the Gospel. Seek to link arms with those who embrace the “mere Christianity” that all followers of Christ embody, while not fearing to defend what Christ has convicted your heart of in matters of secondary importance. Be willing to change what needs to change to advance the Kingdom of God, while never compromising on the truth of Scripture. Be always on the lookout for the leaders of the generation to come to whom you are to entrust the leadership of Christ’s church – remember, it is His church, not yours.
Be strong in the Lord. Be fearless for His glory. Be humble in all things. Be compassionate to the broken. Be ready in all things to serve the Lord with your very life, should that be required. I am proud of you, my son.