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 …
I am so thankful for you and proud of how you have chosen by God’s grace to be more than a follower of Christ Jesus in name only. It blesses my heart to see you grow in His grace and knowledge and be a committed leader for our Lord in service to His church. Seeing you embrace all that it means to be what He wants you to be brings me great joy. For the insight of God’s Word to invest in the generation to come, I will be eternally grateful. I can only ask that you take the same challenge to heart and begin to impact the future (if you are not already doing so) through the mentoring and encouragement of men who will most likely live past your time on this earth. Make sure that you pray over the type of man who will do just this very thing: one who evidences faithfulness and will “pass it on.” Allow God to guide you as you “vette” the ones you may end up working with at a much deeper level. You only have one life; therefore, seek to invest in those who will not fall away, thereby cutting short your impact for the Lord.
You may have seen the “glory days” of ministry “success” in the work of others; and, even some indications of it as a result of our work together. But, do NOT think that such evidences of God’s blessing were due to my/your skills and abilities–or, charisma. It must be because of the work of His Spirit in your efforts for Christ. Be careful to give Him all the glory. Remember that it will not be easy. As you saw in the glimpse given into my life, there have been some very difficult times. It is in those necessary times that the Lord works in making you into what He wants you to be. After all, it is not solely the work He does through you; it is (sometimes even more importantly) the work He is doing in you in the process. Allow Him to be the Potter and be yielded clay in His hands.
One of the most agonizing realities of ministry for you may very well be the departure from the faith of those you thought faithful and worthy of your investment. You may have never even seen what has come to fruition: they actually masked a greater love for the world and the ways things had always been done vs. a deep love for God and a willingness to let Him take charge of what you do–no matter how that may turn out. It will tear your heart out to see those people leave your team and it will absolutely grieve you as to where they end up–in terms of belief and level of service for Christ during the balance of their lives. Give God praise and glory for those who remain faithful to Him and continue on in teamwork with you. It will actually be a much smaller number of people who will give you encouragement to “stay at the work.” Allow the Lord to bless your heart with such people. Nurture their spirits with copious expressions of love, affection and prayer that they, too, will remain faithful.
As they say about an airplane flight (hours of boredom surrounded by moments of sheer terror), the day to day work of the ministry and preparing instruction from God’s Word for those you are called to serve may at times seem drudgery or repetitious. Daily thank God for His call to ministry and seek to bathe each endeavor of service to Him in prayer that He might use you in a significant way for His glory. Remember, as with the saints of old, they were “looking for a city.” They did not necessarily find it during their time on this terrestrial ball. Acknowledge that you may not see the long-term fruit of your ministry. Let Him be in charge of how the results are revealed. Keep faithful to Him to the very end.
My time is coming to an end. I know I am on borrowed time. But, it is actually time given by God that will only end by His predetermination. I pray that you will structure your life, purpose and ministry in such a way as to “finish well”, totally committed to Him. May God bless you richly in all your days and in your service for Him.