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…
The foundation to all of life is the Gospel though which we find a right relationship with God. Remember, we embrace a new identity when we trust in Christ as our Savior. We no longer need to protect our reputation or live in fear of man. It is what Tim Keller calls, The Secret of Self-Forgetfulness. This understanding brings tremendous freedom to our hearts and enables us to not live for the opinion of man, but for the opinion of God. This will allow you to be courageous and stand in a fashion that is honorable to God in times of deep opposition even when you hold the minority opinion that is true and must be defended.
The quality of true character is being willing to value other people and their ideas more than our own. This will allow you to be flexible with other men’s ideas and even be able to embrace them. However, there are at least two things we must fight for in ministry. First, we must be willing to stand tenaciously in defense of the Gospel, which is not just a message by which we are saved, but is the power by which we live our lives everyday as we wait for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember, the purity of our sincere devotion to Christ is in jeopardy when the message of grace is compromised. Second, we also must fight for the unity of the faith. This unity is a direct byproduct of Christ’s work on the cross and is the basis of our witness, allowing us to organize and work together for the mission of His church.
Remain committed to your personal growth as a follower of Christ according to the unique calling recognized first by the Elders (I Timothy 4:14) and then by me (II Timothy 1:6). It is your progress in the Gospel, your passion for Jesus and your integrity and character, which will speak most powerfully to the people around you.
Be vigilant in living and proclaiming the things that accompany sound doctrine. Regularly identify those faithful men around you, invest in their lives and teach them to do the same with others. In this way you will be sure to guard the pattern of sound teaching we have often spoke about, and ensure it is being passed on from generation to generation. Do this without timidity and fear because God has given you power, love and a sound mind.
Ministry is not easy, as you know, so I call you to perseverance and faithfulness. There will be times when you are enticed to come out from under the weight of your responsibilities. Remember God often does His finest work of maturing our faith in this difficult time. So be strong in His grace, drawing on His power and you will be faithful. Be willing to endure hardship like a good soldier, giving your allegiance first and foremost to your Savior.
In times of conflict, remember not to wrangle over words, but rather set an example in your speech, in your conduct, faith, love and purity. Do what is good, praying for those who appear to be our enemies.
The days are evil and growing worse so trust in the Word of God. Never forget that the Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation, come from God and are useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Preach the Word of God, keep your head in all situations, discharge the duties of your office. You can do this in the face of criticism with confidence that this is God’s Church. He will make it right whether here or in eternity. We like Jesus can entrust our souls to Him who judges rightly.
Good strategy and hard work are not a replacement for Spirit dependent living. Did deep into your relationship with the Lord. Work in partnership with the Holy Spirit and recognize that hardship and difficulty are not barriers to the advancement of the Gospel unless you let them be. Often opportunity will arise because of opposition. Seek God for wisdom, attend to character issues in your own heart and see what God can do. He has called you to what you are doing not someone else; remember that. Trust Him.
Finally, it is for freedom that Christ set you free, only don’t use your freedom as a means to indulge the sinful nature, but through love serve one another. Fight for freedom as it is the foundation of the Gospel of grace. Use that freedom to serve others and you will never be disappointed.
I have fought the good fight and finished the race. Now you Timothy, follow my example fulfilling your unique calling and ministry.
I love you brother…Larry Orme