I have the privilege to lead OneHope, which my dad founded, and working alongside him has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. After 80 years of ministry, he’s still a prophetic voice, both in OneHope and in the lives of countless people around the world.
My parents were very intentional about being missional before it was cool to be missional, and I’ve always admired that in them. Seeing my dad continue to live a missional life in such an authentic and committed way has been a consistent guidepost for me.
My aspiration to be like my dad continues to this day. He has been such a great role model, best friend, and mentor. He has so much wisdom to share, so I encourage you to reflect on and apply the following principles in your own life, calling, and ministry.
8 Ways to Remain Faithful to Your Calling Part 1
How did you keep it up for 80 years? What are the most important lessons learned?
These are the kinds of questions you get when people know you have been in full-time ministry for 80 years!
So, I’d like to share eight words, one for each decade I’ve been in ministry, that pinpoint the most important characteristics needed to fulfill your mission in life successfully. I’m sure I could write quite extensively on each one of these, but for now, let me present them as an outline with only a few remarks. Please understand this is not where I started, but what the Lord has taught me and what I have pursued and tried to appropriate over the 80 years. Hopefully, you’ll find this outline valuable in your own life.
1. Be trustworthy Proverbs 10:9: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (NIV).
Trustworthy is a very straightforward word. It is a combination of trust, which is the belief someone has truth and reliability, and worthy, which is to be someone or something that has the qualities to be deserving.
To be trustworthy is to be someone that is always honest, someone you could entrust your dearest secret to. To be trustworthy is to abhor lies and cheating, but rather prize consistency and integrity.
Trustworthiness is a virtue that’s crucial in a community. A true community functions through relationships that are built and maintained through trust.
2. Be transparent Matthew 5:37: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (NIV).
Transparency is a biblical principle. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Confess your faults one to another. Incredible damage is done through people pretending or claiming to be something or someone they are not. Make it a goal to have your personal and public life be completely congruent. Never try to disguise weakness with any form of deception. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down.
Transparency means to be open and vulnerable so that your feelings, thoughts, ideas, and opinions are freely shared. To be transparent is to be an open book. Share your thoughts with family and colleagues openly. A lack of transparency creates suspicion and mistrust.
3. Be knowledgeable Proverbs 24:5: “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might” (ESV).
It’s important to understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun. Wisdom is knowing when and where to use it.
Having started in full-time preaching ministry at the age of 7, my education has been in self-study with tutors. Even though formal education is valuable, it does have one common pitfall. The pitfall is that having received a diploma, many believe they have arrived and don’t have to keep learning. However, formal education should be a process of learning how to study for a lifetime.
I began reading at an early age and have pursued knowledge primarily through reading. I had a curiosity to know at least a little about a lot. I disciplined myself to read through the Bible several times a year for many years. My favorite preacher theologians to follow have been Martin Lloyd-Jones, Carlo Carretto, and George Elden Ladd. I have read through Lloyd-Jones’ many volumes, some of them like Romans and Ephesians, more than once.
However, the scope of my reading covered a lot of territory beyond Scripture. Some books that had an influence on my life were The Ninth Wave by Eugene Burdick, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, the writings of Bernard Lonergan, particularly out of his many volumes the one called Insight, and the works of Hans Küng on being a Christian, and St. Augustine’s The City of God. The only novelist I have followed has been John le Carré. I have first editions of all of his books.
In the area of management and business, my foundation has been through Peter Drucker, whom I was fortunate enough to know and be mentored by. I believe anybody that wants to be a leader should, at a minimum, read The Essential Drucker.
I believe my development is a result of the insight I gained through these readings.
Above all else, St. Augustine would remind us that any endeavor, including reading, is only worthwhile if it enhances our love for God and people. As you pursue knowledge through reading a variety of manuscripts and books, keep spiritual formation the ultimate goal.
4. Be Humble Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV).
It’s important to understand that meekness is not weakness.
Feigned humility is another form of pride. The Scripture makes it clear that God hates pride. It was Satan’s pride that precluded man’s fall.
In researching the lives of great men who had dramatic failures, pride is always at the root. I am now often asked, “If you had one word to share with young people in ministry, what would it be?” My answer is always humility.
When you realize that everything we have, or ever will be, is God’s gracious gifting, then pride finds no place. Humility comes from a sense of dependency. I am dependent on God. I am also dependent on the wisdom, love, and support of colleagues, and family.
Beyond all else, prayerfully guard your heart against pride, and walk humbly with your God.
Check back next week for the last four principles!