My dear son, (My dearest Timothy)
There is so much I would love to leave with you from my 30 plus years of serving the Lord, such things as surround yourself with godly men who are not yes men but men who can speak into your life, or the utmost importance of having someone besides your wife to be your accountability partner, someone who will ask the hard questions and expect you to be truthful or the absolute necessity of keeping your wife and family as a heartbeat of your life, your ministry is shaped by your love for your wife and children or never fall into the trap of church growth “schemes” of just filling the pews with fannies; we are to concern ourselves with discipling those who will disciple others and to evangelize any who will listen. I have worked hard at teaching that the church is not a building but the very body of Christ as you well know. But I will contain myself; for you have walked with me through many of those years and have seen the good and bad in the ministry. We have talked through many of these issues.
I would like to leave you with you three values or better passions that I have worked hard at keeping as priorities in my life:
- A passion for the Word of God:
- Ask God for this passion, for I am afraid, although it should come naturally but does not for many. There are many “Tyrannies of the Urgent” that are in competition for this.
- Work hard at making the Word of God more relational than just a text book.
- Preach/teach it to transform not just to inform
- From this passion stems all other things relating to truth, God’s will for life, and ministry.
- Ministry must be built on this if it is to bear fruit.
- I encourage you to preach and teach expositional for it will stop you from preaching on soap boxes that are more about you than God. In your preparation for teaching/preaching make sure you ask the Lord that His people hear from Him and not you!
- A passion for being filled, led or walking in the Spirit.
- Let Gal. 5:16-25 be a guide to ministry for you.
- This is I believe is one of the hardest struggles. We get full of ourselves a lot and we tend to jet off in our own flesh, which can be disastrous as we are committed to serving The Lord not ourselves.
- Being controlled by the Spirit is a safeguard against bitterness, anger, jealousies, and other things that the flesh can and will produces in us, if we let it.
- One of the things that God has challenged me with recently is to not get out of bed until I have prayed and asked the Lord for help in putting Him first in my life. What a help this has been in seeking to walk in Him throughout the day.
- Walking in the Spirit keeps us honest about our sins; His convictions drive us to our knees to agree with Him about the sin and to accept His grace to continue.
- Remember my friend God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and walking in the Spirit will keep us humble, teachable, and genuine.
- A passion to have others “Follow me as I follow Christ” – I Cor. 11:1
- This verse has been such a driving force in my life. It has been a joy and at times it has been haunting. We want our lives to point to Christ in all areas of life.
- This will keep your priorities of everyday life including family and Ministry.
- Seek To love the Lord with all that you are and with all the strength in you. Again, ask God for this as He has promised to answer all our prayers according to His will.
- Allow God’s people see how you handle failure as you follow Christ and you have seen mine and have seen God’s grace come to my rescue over and over as He will you.
- Remember the Lord’s conversation by the sea side in John 21, where He asked Peter if he loved Him and each time the Lord’s response to Peter, as he responded, was feed His sheep.
- We need to be reminded that we do this ministry because we love Him and the people we minister to are His not ours. This helps so much when His people hurt you, make you so mad you could spit, when they fail you, or criticize you, or desert you for bigger and better ministries. We serve His people not because of the people but because we love the Lord.
There is one last thing I need to share with you. And that is “ENJOY GOD!” I so regret not fighting harder for this. I am guilty of allowing ministry to hinder this kind of God-given joy. A joy that is “irrevocable and certain” as one commentator has said. My dear forever friend we so often forget that our God is passionate for us! Please do not let life or of all things ministry (which should be a source of such joy) rob you of that Joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (NAS)
Your friend, pastor and one who will always have your back.