Today at the School of Local Church Ministry and Church Planting, we had joint sessions with students from the School of World Missions. Pastor Jun Escosar did the lectures. A lot of things has been said that my note taking ability was tested to its limits. The following are the highlights that particularly resonated with me:
Character. Just because people are educated doesn’t mean that they have character. You may be called by God, you may be gifted but it’s not your giftedness that will finish the job, it’s your character. This is not a question of whether you are really called or not. That issue should have been resolved in your heart by now. You can be truly gifted and truly called and still fail if your character doesn’t match your spiritual giftings.
Finishing Strong. Pastor Jun Escosar mentioned Steve Farrar’s book Finishing Strong. I happened to have read that book several years ago and the single most vivid picture that I got from it was Farrar’s list of seminary classmates at the back of his Bible and how he crossed out most of their names down through the years as one by one, they fell away from grace. It was chillingly sobering. After I read that book, I started praying for God’s grace to carry me until my very last breath. I didn’t want to just start, I want to finish well, I want to finish strong.
Discipleship. Never ever put yourself in a situation where you are not investing in the lives of at least five to ten people. The ministry is often tricky. You could be pulled to a hundred different directions if you are not very intentional about discipleship. I think I’ve seen enough of churches and ministry leaders who are simply too busy doing everything else except invest in the lives of the next generation.
Just One Thing. I just realized that there are many things I can do but for me to make the biggest impact, I should just focus on the only thing that only I can do. I know that sounds a bit presumptuous but if people smarter than I am say that it’s the best ministry practice, I better believe them than waste years finding out whether it’s true or not. I remember this one time when after seeing me do ministry back in college, an old classmate pulled me aside and said, “I know you can do many things but in order for you to be effective, you have got to stop doing everything and let other people help you.” Smart guy.
Window of Grace. Pastor Jun Escosar talked about dealing with personal issues while we are still in school. In the next few months, we bury ourselves deep in study and training for the ministries we would be doing for the rest of our lives. If there is ever the best time to deal and break old habits and addictions, that would be now while we still have no reputations to protect. This is true especially for me who is just starting out. Some of my classmates are already pastoring churches. I’m the new guy here. I should be starting with a clean slate.