1. Understand your call. God does not call you to a certain task, but he calls you to Himself. It is out of your relationship to Him that He assigns you specific tasks. This underscores the importance of your daily time with the Lord. You have been filled with His Spirit, and you need to learn to follow His leadership.
Understanding that you are called to Him, every believer finds that all of life becomes sacred to him or her. Whatever He assigns you to do is your sacred task that grows out of your relationship with Him. I always said that being a pastor/preacher was what I was, not what I did. When I went to be president of the Sunday School Board I suddenly realized that I was no longer what I had always been. But God soon showed me that my call was to a vital relationship with Him, and He could put me anywhere He desired for me to be!
When you realize that His call is to go through life with Him always within you and guiding you, every assignment becomes an expression of the Lord, whose you are! This understanding will allow you to minister wherever you are and whatever you are doing as you follow His bidding.
2. Your family is your first line of ministry. Don’t minister to everyone else and neglect your family. Your call from the Lord is to serve your family carefully and continually. They need to understand your call from the Lord and what that means in their lives. They must love the church as much as you do. Going to church is not a requirement, it is who you are and what you do. Looking back on my younger years, I realize I had to go to church. However, I never felt that was why we did. Being part of the local church is a wonderful privilege of us all and we do it because of our relationship with the Lord Who made it all possible.
Our children loved being part of the church and early in their lives established their own relationship with the Lord. Their Christian worldview came out of their growing relationship with Him. We taught them to love the Lord and follow His principles for living. We all learned that some things are right and some things are wrong. Not because we thought they were right or wrong, but because God clearly guided us in making judgments based on His Word.
3. Be very careful about any contact with the opposite sex. Do not allow even the appearance of evil or impropriety. Perception is the cruelest form of reality. It does not have to be true to hurt you, your ministry and the name of the Lord. If it is perceived to be true, then for the person who believes it, it is true. Never visit with a woman alone under any circumstances. Take your wife with you everywhere it is possible for her to go. You don’t have to be guilty to be hurt, you just have to be accused. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to believe any inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex.
4. Be kind to everyone because everyone is having a hard time. All of us have our challenges and our painful experiences. As we preach, we are hurting men preaching to hurting people. It is never appropriate to treat people with anger or hostility. Our kindness should extend to all, especially those who criticize us or attack us.
5. Be a grateful person. Rejoice that God has saved you and in His sovereignty has assigned you to preach the Gospel. God does not use any of us because of us, but always in spite of us. To have any assignment anywhere in God’s kingdom is the highest of privileges. Be grateful for everything in your life. Thank those who help you, support you and pray for you. Live continually in a spirit of gratitude for all the Lord has done in saving you and using you.
6. Build strong relationships. Get to know the people you serve and maintain a strong connection with them. I shall forever be thankful for the people God brought into my life along my journey. My best friends have been godly deacons and fellow ministers He placed in my life. We all need strong support that can only come with strong relationships.
7. Understand that everyone is somebody in God’s Kingdom. Nobody is nobody! In Christ, everybody is somebody special. People are not problems, they are possibilities. They are not obstacles, they are opportunities. People are not there for us to get them to do everything we think they should do. They are there for us to help them become all that God wants them to be. Value every individual.
8. Always be prepared to preach. There is no excuse to not be ready to preach. Be a student of the Word and make every message you preach to be text-driven, a clear exposition of God’s Word.
9. In making decisions, doubt never means yes. If God is God, and He is. If He has a plan for your life, and He does. He is big enough to tell you what it is. Doubt always means “no” or “wait”, but never “yes.”
10. Always share your faith and find ways to meet and share with people every week. Your call from God involves personally sharing the Gospel. Without faithfully doing that your relationship with the Lord will grow cold. Witnessing is the fuel for your spiritual life as it draws you closer to Him.
11. Be a lifelong learner. I am 84 years old and this past year I have learned things I never realized and have been greatly blessed in new knowledge about the depth of God’s Word. Stay by the Word! You can never exhaust it!
Jimmy Draper is President Emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources.