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…
Any building must have a strong foundation if it is to stand the test of time. So it is with your life and ministry. Jesus told us that if we hear his words and act on them we are building on solid rock. So it is crucial that you understand what God’s Word teaches and also seek to live it by obeying its directives and acting out its values as you make choices and form your attitudes. It will hold you steady in the storms of life and give you a constant basis for your faith, which will be tested over and over again throughout your life. Of course central to the foundation of God’s word is Christ Jesus himself. Remember that Jesus told us that following him will sometimes be difficult but that he is for us and will never abandon us, so don’t be knocked off balance when struggles within and outside opposition arise.
The primary reason we are left on this earth is to bring others along with us; therefore, make the sharing of the gospel a priority in your life and ministry. Be purposeful about being with the people who need to hear and respond to the gospel. That’s what Jesus did.
It is so easy to “rest on your laurels” relying on yesterday’s growth. This is stifling to your progress as a Christ-follower. Therefore make the study of God’s Word a never-ending journey as you build on the foundation of the basic of Scripture. Be humble, teachable and open to new truths the Holy Spirit will want to show you along the way. Also continually seek to grow in methods and approaches to ministry. The Word never changes but the ways we communicate its truth need to keep pace with the constantly changing in the world we are called to reach.
Imperative to your life and ministry will be your personal purity and integrity. Be on guard against impure thoughts and practices. Don’t allow them to gain a foothold in your life, because left unchecked, they will bring you into bondage. Spend time with God so that through his Word you may continually reprogram your mind and heart. Along with this, hold honesty, transparency and accountability to be hallmarks in your life.
Remember that as a child of God you are also a soldier. Therefore, be prepared for attacks. These will come in the form of various temptations: temptations to compromise the Word of God so we fit better in this present world; temptations that are moral in nature; and temptations to just quit! Of course our original and constant enemy is the devil. We possess a power that he cannot withstand—the truth. Always be submissive to God and then resist him with the truth! Be determined to resist in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word He has given us.
Finally, build your relationships with people: With the lost, in order to show them Christ’s love and the gospel and with other Christ followers God puts in your life to strengthen you and encourage you. Of course that works both ways as you use the gifts God has given to benefit them as well.