Advice To A Young Preacher

Title: Advice To A Young Preacher
Subject: Pastoral Ministry
Advice To A Young Preacher
J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

A young man from a former church graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His family asked that I write him some helpful thoughts as he began his first post-seminary pastorate. I sent him the following message.

The Apostle Paul compared the Christian life, and the ministry, to running a race. When he came to the end of his journey he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Anyone who runs knows that you cannot run a "good" race without preparation, discipline and purpose. The question is: What did Paul do that caused him to come to such a victorious conclusion in his ministry and life?

1. The Fight

Paul rightly understood that serving the Lord is a "fight." Some ministers think that the ministry will be cakewalk. They are in for a rude awakening. You must rise from your bed everyday realizing that the devil is not going to make your work easy for you. I mention the devil because that is where the battle takes place. Paul stated this clearly in Ephesians 6. He said that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but we wrestle with the rulers of the darkness of this age. Your fight is never with people - not even those people who seem to be the enemy. Your real struggle is with Satanic forces seeking to destroy your ministry.

Paul did not say that he had simply fought the fight; rather, Paul said that he had fought the "good" fight. Paul knew the difference in a "personal" fight and a "good" fight. My advice would be to fight the "good" fight. Never take anything that anyone does to you as "personal." Also, never let your guard down. Note that Paul had to "fight" the good fight right up to the very end. Satan will probe you for weak spots and attack where he thinks he can win an easy victory. Watch your life in three specific areas: Sex, Money and Pride. Remember that the One in you is greater than the evil one in the world.

2. The Finish Line

A race involves a path that is laid out in advance. No one runs a race without knowing the course. You must make sure you are working for the right things. After all, you are going to end up at the finish line of the course you have chosen. Make sure you are running God''s race for you. Find His will and do His will. Three enemies will attack you at this point.

The first enemy is selfishness. You may create your own path and ask God to bless it. That will lead to a lot of sorrow and will bring you to the wrong finish line. The second enemy is laziness. You may decide to just drift down the road of your ministerial life. A race is very tiring and you may decide to take it easy rather than give it your all. You will end up far short of God''s finish line for you if you decide to live a lazy ministerial life. The third enemy is emptiness. When a person is running, it is important to have plenty of energy producing calories and a good supply or water. You can''t run for God if you are running on empty. You must spend time with the Lord, and time in His Word. He will refresh you and fill you with his Spirit. Neglecting time with God will leave you empty and cause you to collapse before you get to the end of the race.

3. The Faith

Being a minister causes you to see the dark side of the Christian life. You see the hateful church members, the indifferent believers, the disappointing fellow ministers, the immoral behavior of some Christians, the political shenanigans of some religious leaders, and a lot of other disappointing stuff. It would be easy to lose "the faith." I don''t think Paul was talking about losing faith in Christ - he was talking about losing faith in everything! Some days you can get so depressed you just want to give up. Paul NEVER GAVE UP! He kept the faith that God is still God, no matter how some of His people act. He kept the faith that living for Jesus is worth it. He kept the faith that Christ is Lord and will reveal Himself victoriously one day in the future! He kept the faith that doing God's work is the greatest job on earth. Keep the faith! Never become so discouraged that you quit!

We are all so proud of you. You have a great future - if you do the three things Paul did in his life throughout the days of your ministry life, you will come to the finish line saying,
"I have fought a good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith!"
We love you and will be praying for you in the years to come. Please stay in touch and let us know how God is working in and through your lives. You will always be special to us.