You will enter the pulpit ministry with the idea that so long as you study hard and prepare to feed the sheep each week faithfully from God’s Word that they will be satisfied—only to learn that they aren’t satisfied due to their selfish cravings. You’ll learn that people will disappoint you, betray you, make false accusations against you, and finally leave you all alone. Ministry is not for sissies. In the ministry you will experience your greatest joys and your deepest pains.
A question was submitted for the 2019 G3 Conference questions & answers session that asked the following question:
“I’m a young man who is preparing for pastoral ministry in the local church. As a seminary student, what counsel would you give to me as I prepare for the future?”
In the fall of the year just before we would move to Louisville to attend seminary the following January, my wife and I made an agreement that we would not purchase Christmas presents for each other and we would save money for the upcoming move. Without my knowledge, she wrote to several preachers asking for them to write a letter to me in order to provide wisdom for me as I prepared to move away to attend seminary. She compiled each of those letters in a nice binder and provided it to me as a gift that Christmas. I still look through it to this very day as it sits on the shelf in my study. One letter stands out to me as it states the following:
My word to you is to always remember that you are merely a vessel and He is the Treasure. Just a river bed for the river to flow. Any demands God makes on you is not on your ability but on the Christ who promised to be your sufficiency for the journey. Remember that any old bush will do if God set it on fire for His glory. May the Holy Spirit give you enough problems to keep you trusting, enough hurts to keep you broken, and enough victories to keep you praising Him. Only God can take nothing and indwell him so he can be more than a conqueror.
What great truth that I’m still thankful that I received early in the journey of ministry rather than after hitting difficulties along the way.