I meet once or twice each year with the senior men of West Coast Baptist College to discuss ministry philosophy and personal growth. As we met last month, I was encouraged by their sense of anticipation and eagerness for getting into the ministry.
These are exciting days to serve the Lord. While it’s true that the ministry landscape is very different from when I first entered the ministry, it’s also true that there have never been more opportunities or a greater need for gospel-preaching churches. I’m excited to see another group of preachers graduate and am thankful for their sense of urgency to serve Christ in a meaningful way.
Along those lines, I shared seven truths with them are needful for all of us, but are perhaps especially pertinent to younger men:
1. Don’t Be Reactionary
Not every leader whom you’ve looked up to will remain faithful, and some who you believed were spiritual will hurt you. Don’t let that change your ministry philosophy so that you develop methods based against certain people, rather than based on biblical beliefs.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2
2. Always Live with Gratitude
The ministry isn’t always easy. I find that even if one hundred aspects of ministry are going well, I most naturally notice and feel troubled about the one or two that aren’t. Intentionally giving thanks, however, is one of the best ways to maintain a proper perspective amidst the pressures of ministry.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;—Ephesians 5:20
3. Maintain a Heart for Souls
Whatever aspect of ministry you are in, remember that at the heart of it is the Great Commission. If you do not schedule time to share the gospel, pray for a heart of compassion, and purposefully interact with the lost, you’ll lose your heart for souls.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.—Matthew 9:36
4. Retain Strong Baptist Distinctives
“Baptist” isn’t a cultural affiliation that comes and goes. It represents biblical, New Testament doctrine, polity, and distinctives.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.—2 Timothy 3:16–17
5. Be Creative, but Don’t Follow Every Trend
Creativity is not borrowing worldly methods to reach people. Creativity is finding ways to connect God’s unchanging truth with hearts. Creativity was Jesus pushing the boat out from shore to make His voice project across the water. It was Paul using the “altar to an unknown god” as a springboard for the gospel message. By all means, be creative, but don’t use new methods just because they’re new and look cool on Instagram.
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.—1 Corinthians 9:22–23
6. Maintain a Consistent Devotional Life
You will have 1,001 reasons to let your personal Bible study and prayer life slip. Don’t. Without consistent times of personally and passionately seeking God, you have nothing to give others. Put a priority on your devotional life, and your walk with God will flourish.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.—Mark 1:35
7. Encourage Others
Remember those moments when a single text message or a handwritten thank you note breathed new life into your spirit? There are many people today who suggest ministry is too hard or fruitless. Be someone who encourages others to continue pressing forward for God and the Great Commission.
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.—2 Timothy 2:1
If you are a younger man in ministry, I’d encourage you to take these seven principles to heart as well. And for those of us who have been in ministry for a few decades (although we are still young ), let’s encourage those just starting out that, although the harvest is great, being a laborer is the greatest opportunity in the world.