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…
You are not alone as you pour your life into your flock. Share your pains and your joys with others of like mind who are leading flocks around you. Seek counsel from scriptures and also from others godly men who have walked the path ahead of you. Remember a cord of three strands is not easily broken.
You will face challenges and struggles as you shepherd the hearts of your flock. You must learn to take those struggles to God in prayer and not attempt to use your own strength and wisdom to find solutions. Run from tying your identity to your church. You are God’s child and you must find your identity in Him alone.
Be on-guard against those that want to measure success by the size of your flock and seek measure what the spirit does by worldly standards. The clearer your vision for God’s flock the more distractions you will face.
Work hard in growing your relationship with God because you will not be able to lead people to a place you have never been yourself. Unless you fill yourself with Christ you will never be able to pour Jesus out on anyone else.
Fight complacency and spiritual apathy with everything inside of you. Daily evaluate your heart and seek input from truth tellers in your life who will help you see your blind spots in your marriage, family, ministry, and work. Life is short and can be easily wasted on trivial arguments, selfish desires, and purposeless endeavors.
You must be willing to position yourself in stretching circumstances which will grow your faith in God. If you stay comfortable and allow the fear of man to limit your steps, you will never arrive at the goal Christ has for you. When you feel fear gripping your heart and limiting your faith, attack it with prayer and confession.
Remind yourself daily that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. Never let your flock lose sight of this passion God has for his Church. Let your vision always be tied to God’s vision He has given us in His Word. Remember if you stray outside of what the Word says you will be standing on thin ice that will collapse beneath your weight.
Do not fear the demands for tolerance. Though culture may push you to bow your knee to their worldview, stand strong upon the truth of scripture. The church must be the pillar of truth and you are the one called to lead the flock. Remember the Holy Spirit will give you the Words to say when you must stand before the kings of this world.
Stay focused on eternal things and trust God each step of your life.