Young Man, What Are You Going To Do?
I have three daughters. I love them very much and I am blessed to have them in my life. But because I have three daughters, I have also learned to appreciate watching the boys and young men who are growing up into godly people of faith all around me.
As I watch them growing up, I see that they are talented, hard-working, conscientious, and living by the principles of their faith. I know that whatever their hand finds to do, they will do it with their might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). There is no shortage of ambition among our talented young men either because they are endeavoring in their studies to prepare for difficult and important professions. As I talk with them, their intelligence is obvious and many evidences of their work ethic and success are already apparent. I am confident that these wonderful young men will be able do whatever work they eventually decide to do. Young man, may I add preaching the gospel to that list of interesting and important possibilities?
As far as I know, preaching does not appear on any of those tests that you take to see what kind of job you might be good at, nor do I know of any guidance counselors in the public schools who are regularly trying to convince young men to preach. People in the world do not talk about preaching as a possible future for our most gifted young men, and many people in the world have the idea that one must receive a “call from God” to preach. But it was Barnabas who wanted to take John Mark along on the second journey, even after what had happened on the first journey (Acts 15:37, 38), and it was Paul’s idea to take Timothy with him as he was leaving Galatia (Acts 16:1-3). My point is that Mark and Timothy both became effective and useful teachers, not because they received some irresistible call, but because some of their older brethren recognized their potential and took an interest in them. So, I ask you, young man, have you considered using all that ability and determination that I see in you to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?
There are a lot of opportunities out there for studious and hard working young men to pursue the rewarding work of preaching the gospel. There are numerous churches that bring younger men in to study with an older preacher and the elders of the church. Many of these churches also pay the young man for his work and his time. Such opportunities won’t yield a degree that you can hang in your “office”, but if you approach them with the same seriousness that you would a college course, they will equip you to do the work of an evangelist without breaking the bank. This writer does not claim to be able to provide what other men with more experience could offer, but he would be willing to do whatever he could to help any young person grow in their ability to teach the word of God. This writer also feels confident in saying that this would be true of the elders or preacher wherever you are. So, young man, why not begin by asking them what you can be doing right now to grow in your ability to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?
There are some unpleasant challenges in the work of preaching, and maybe you’ve heard some horrible stories and decided that preaching just wasn’t for you. It can be hard to stay in one place long enough to “get settled”. In fact, it can be hard to even predict where you will end up living. Even if you “get settled”, it can be hard to “feel settled”. However, those nagging doubts about our effectiveness and whether or not it is time to move on are rarely as serious as they seem to be in our minds. Many times those doubts are great motivators to keep us diligent in our work (2 Timothy 2:15).
People can be slow to change, and some will never change no matter how carefully you may approach them. It will usually take years to see any evidence of how your work with a group has helped you or them. Some will become discouraged because they believe that it is job of the preacher to change people. Yet, in this writer’s understanding, the sower went forth to sow, and the most important factor in determining the outcome of his work was the type of ground (hearts) that he sowed upon (Matthew 13:19-23). There is nothing so rewarding as seeing what happens when the seed does come into contact with good ground. So, remember that and remember to take heed to yourself and to the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). If you do this, you will be an instrument that God can use to accomplish much good even if you do not preach “full time”.
Money can be another concern for those who consider preaching the gospel. You don’t preach for money. You preach because the word of the Lord is like a fire burning inside of you (Jeremiah 20:9), and believe it or not, preaching can actually feed that fire and cause it to burn hotter and brighter throughout your lifetime. No, you don’t preach for money, but if you’re going to devote your time to it fully or if you’re going to have a family, you will need to be able to live. God has ordained that those preach the gospel should live from the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13, 14). Despite what you may have heard, the brethren are more often than not, quite generous. They’re pretty dependable, too. In our first work, we were receiving support from four different churches for almost five years and not once in all that time was a check ever late. Occasionally, the economics of the congregation and the area that you’re moving to may mean that you are offered less than what you were receiving in your previous work. But I’m not worried about that causing you to stumble because I know that you wouldn’t decide to preach to get rich physically (1 Timothy 6:8, 9). I also know that you don’t work hard because you want to be rich. You work hard because you want to glorify the Lord and be useful to Him (Colossians 3:23, 24). I know this because I see you living by the principles of your faith each and every day.
So, young man, what do you think? You don’t have to decide right now, but I hope that you won’t forget that there is a great need in our world for the important work of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need men who will stand up and boldly proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), and, may I add that we need women who will stand with them, encouraging them to hold fast the pattern of sounds words (2 Timothy 1:13)? In fact, the woman that you marry may have a lot to do with your decision to preach; it did for me.
You may have already figured this out, but you’re the kind of man that I would like those three daughters of mine to marry - and if one of my daughters decides to marry you, young man, I hope that the two of you will stir up the fire of God’s word within one another. If that happens, well, I’m hoping that you will find it harder and harder to keep from preaching.