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…
First of all I want you to remember the sacrifice of love and continual care of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Keep Him in the very center of your focus and life. Don’t forget that you are not your own, but have been bought with a price. Remember that He has a great future for you and His power and His Kingdom is what you are all about. Your life, your call, your love, your fellowship, your family, your ministry is all finds its being, its strength from Him. As the Paul said in Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Matthew 6:33 is all about seeking Him and His Kingdom first.
I want you to know that Christ died for the church, He lives for the Church and that He is doing His work for through the church. That He calls her His bride and He has privileged us to be part of the body. We are called to be the under-shepherds in stewardship of what is most important to His heart. Care for it with the weight of His love. Feed His sheep. Remember to tend the lambs. Care for the body as Christ would care for it. Our job is to prepare God’s people until they are fully mature – Ephesians 4:11-13.
Don’t forget the lost, your neighbour, the people in your community. Remember Christ died for them. That God created them in His image. That He would that none should perish. That He commands us to love them and that He commands us to make disciples of all peoples. Remember those who “sow with tears, reap with joy.” Your approach may be different than mine. But, I want to encourage you, if you love your neighbour as yourself, you will not only please God, but you will open the door for the gospel. Remember 1 Peter 3:15 and keep it in your heart. Remember that God’s Spirit is you and is at work in their lives as well.
Remember that the work is the Lord’s. That it is not dependent upon your abilities, strengths, weaknesses, resources, or anything you bring to the table. God will use all of those things, especially your weaknesses, remember that ‘faithful is He who called you, who will also do it.” Remember it is His work, and if He called you to it, He will finish what He has started. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t second guess your gifts, lean deeply on God. Fall into His hands and He will pick you up and carry you through. Never doubt in the dark, what God has revealed to you in the light. God will be faithful, so trust Him.
Love your wife. Ephesians 5 is for you. It is your responsibility to nurture her and disciple her in the word, to open God’s word and learn and grow together. Daily, you should be praying with her. She is your partner, friend and greatest gift God has given you in the ministry. Honor her, include her, and invite her into your thoughts, dreams, and plans. Invite her ideas, concerns and instruction into your life. Your love for her will keep her secure, will be your greatest witness to the lost world, and will win you the credibility to lead, in your family and in God’s church. Love your wife, lay down your life for her.
Be faithful to the word of God. Don’t depart from it. Memorize it. Read it daily. Don’t get caught up in silly arguments and people who move away from it. Don’t confuse tradition with culture and continue to be open to changes in the way you do ministry and even live life, but always keep them in light of scripture.
Lastly, I don’t know how to more strongly encourage you. Always be broken before God and sensitive to His Spirit. Confess your sin, immediately. Repent, change the way you see it to agree with the way God sees it and change the way you act and think. Repentance changes the heart of God. Your greatest effectiveness in ministry will always come from your obedience to the Spirit of God and our greatest ability to hear the Spirits voice is when we are empty of ourselves and full of Him. Obedience always releases God’s power. Stay repented before a holy God and watch His power manifest itself through your life.