Questions for Young Ministers
QUESTIONS FOR YOUNG MINISTERS
by Isaac Watts, D.D.
1] OF FAITHFULNESS IN THE MINISTRY.
Do I sincerely give myself ‘to the ministry of the word;’ Acts 6.4. and do I design to make it the chief business of my life to serve Christ in His Gospel, in order to the salvation of men?
Do I resolve, through the aids of divine grace, ‘to be faithful to him who hath put me into the ministry,’ and ‘to take heed to the ministry which I have received in the Lord that I may fulfil it?’ I Tim. 1.12, Col. 4.17.
Do I honestly and faithfully endeavour by study and prayer to know ‘the truth as it is in Jesus?’ Eph. 4.21. and do I seek my instructions chiefly from the ‘holy scriptures which are able to make me wise unto salvation, through the faith that is in Christ, that I may be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work?’ 2 Tim. 3.14.17.
Do ‘I hold fast the form of sound words,’ as far as I have learned them of Christ and His apostles? 2 Tim. 1.13. That I ‘may by sound doctrine exhort and convince gainsayers;’ Tit. 1.9. and do I determine to ‘continue in the things which I have learned, knowing from whom I have learned them?’ 2 Tim. 3.14.
Do I resolve to give the people the true meaning of Christ in His word, so far as I can understand it, and ‘not to handle the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commend myself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God?’ 2 Cor. 4.2
Am I watchful to ‘avoid profane and vain babblings?’ 1 Tim. 6.20. and do I take care to ‘shun foolish questions, which do gender strife, and disputing about words, which are to no profit, but the subversion of the hearers?’ 2 Tim. 2.14, 23.
Do I study to show myself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth; 2 Tim. 2.15 giving to every one, viz. to saints and sinners, their proper portion?
Do I make it my business to ‘testify to all men, whether Jews or Greeks, the necessity of repentance towards God, and faith in Christ Jesus;’ and that ‘there is no other name under heaven given whereby we may be saved;’ making this gospel of Christ the subject of my ministry? Acts 20.21. Acts 4.12.
Do I constantly affirm that ‘those who have believed in Christ Jesus should maintain good works, and follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’?’ Titus 3.8. Heb. 12.14.
Do I teach those that hear me to ‘observe all that Christ hath commanded us, nor shun to declare to them at proper seasons the whole counsel of God?’ Mat. 28.20. Acts 20.27.
Do I preach to the people, ‘not myself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and myself as their servant for Christ sake?’ 2 Cor. 4.5.
Do I, in my study and my preaching, ‘take heed to my doctrine and my exhortations, so that I may save myself and them that hear me?’ I Tim. 4.16.
Do I ‘watch over the souls of men as one that must give an account, being solicitous that I may do it with joy, and not with grief?’ Heb.13.17.
2] OF DILIGENCE IN THE MINISTRY.
Do I ‘give attendance to reading,’ meditation and study? Do I read a due portion of Scripture daily, especially in the New Testament, and that in the Greek original, that I may be better acquainted with the meaning of the word of God? 1 Tim. 4.13.
Do I apply myself to these things, and give myself wholly to them, that my profiting may appear to all? 1 Tim. 4.15.
Do I live, constantly, as under the eye of the great Shepherd, who is my master and my final judge, and so spend my hours as to be able to give up a good account of them at last to Him?
Do I not ‘neglect to stir up any of those gifts, which God has given me, for the edification of the church?’ 1 Tim. 4.14 and 2 Tim. 1.6.
Do I seek, as far as possible, to know the state and the wants of my auditory, that I ‘may speak a word in season?’ Is. 1.4.
Is it my chief design, in choosing my subject, and composing my sermon, to edify the souls of men?
Am I determined to take all proper opportunities to preach the word in season and out of season, that is, in the parlour or the kitchen, or the workhouse, as well as in the pulpit; and seek opportunities to speak a word for Christ, and help forward the salvation of souls? 2 Tim. 4.2.
Do I labour to show my love to our Lord Jesus, by ‘feeding the sheep and the lambs of his flock?’ John 21.16,17.
Am I duly solicitous for the success of my ministry? and do I take all proper methods to inquire what effects my ministry has had on the souls of those who hear me?
Where I find or hope the work of grace is begun on the soul, am I zealous and diligent to promote it?
3] OF CONSTANT PRAYER AND DEPENDENCE.
Do I ‘give myself to prayer, as well as to the ministry of the word?’ Acts 6.4.
Do I make conscience of praying daily in secret, that I may thereby maintain holy converse with God, and also, that I may increase in the gift of prayer? Mat. 6.6.
Do I make it my practice to offer ‘prayers, supplications, and intercessions for all men,’ particularly for our rulers, and for my fellow labourers in the ministry, and for the church of Christ, and especially for those to whom I preach? I Tim. 2.1. Rom. 1.9, 10. Phil. 1.4.
Do I seek by prayer, for divine direction and assistance in my studies and in all my preparations for the public? and do I plead for the success of my ministry with God, in whom are all our springs? Eph. 3.14-19. Phil. 1.8,9.
Do I ever keep upon my spirit a deep sense of my own insufficiency for these things, that I may ever depend and wait on the power of Christ for aid and success? 2 Cor. 2.16. and 3.5. and 2 Tim. 2.1.
4] OF SELF-DENIAL, HUMILITY, MORTIFICATION, AND PATIENCE.
Do I endeavour to please all men for their good, and not make it my business to please myself? Rom. 16.2. But to become all to all, that I may win their souls, so far as is consistent with being true and faithful to Christ? 1 Cor. 10.23, and 9.19, 22.
Do I behave myself before men, ‘not as a lord over God’s heritage but as a servant of all for Christ’s sake?’ and do I treat them not as having dominion over their faith, but as a helper of their joy? 2 Cor. 4.5. and 1.24.
Am I ‘gentle and patient towards all men, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves?’ 2 Tim. 2.24, 25.
Do I ‘approve myself in all things as a minister of God; in much patience possessing my own soul,’ and having the government of my own spirit? 2 Cor. 6.4
Do I, as a man of God, whose business is heavenly, flee from covetousness and the inordinate desire of gain; not seeking my own things so much as the things of Christ? 1 Tim. 6.10,11. But having food and raiment, have I learned therewith to be content? 1 Tim. 6.8.
Am I willing ‘to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ?’ 2 Tim. 2.3. and am I learning to bear whatsoever God calls me to, ‘for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain salvation with eternal glory?’ 2 Tim.2.3. 10.
Am I more and more fortified against shame and suffering for the testimony of my Lord Jesus Christ? 2 Tim. 1.8-12.
Am I willing ‘to spend myself and to be spent for the good of the people, or even to be offered up, as a sacrifice for the service of their faith? and do I count nothing dear to me, that I may fulfil the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus?’ Phil. 2.17.2 Cor. 12.15. Acts 20.24.
5] OF CONVERSATION
It is my constant endeavour to ‘hold fast the true faith, and a good conscience together, lest making shipwreck of one, I should lose the other also.’ Tim. 1.19.
Do I so walk as to be an example of a Christian, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity?’ I Tim. 4.12; that in ‘all things I may show myself a pattern of good works?’ Tit. 2.7.
Do I endeavour to walk uprightly amongst men, and do nothing by partiality? 1 Tim. 5.21.
Is my conversation savoury and religious, so as to minister edification to the hearers? Eph. 4.29.
Do I ‘shun youthful lusts, and follow after righteousness, faith, charity, and peace with all them that call on the Lord, out of a pure heart?’ 2 Tim. 2.22.
Do I avoid, as much as possible, the various temptations to which I may be exposed, and watch against the times, and places, and company which are dangerous?
Do I practice the Christian duty of love and charity, to those who differ from me in opinion, and even ‘bless and pray for them that are my enemies?’ Rom. 12.14 ; and 14.1.
Do I behave myself blameless as a steward of God, not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, nor filthy lucre, no brawler, no striker; a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate? Tit. 1.7, 8.
Do I daily endeavour ‘to give no offence in any thing that the ministry be not blamed?’ 2 Cor. 6.3.
Do I watch over myself in all times, and places, and conversations, so as to do and to bear what is required of me, to make a full proof of my ministry, and to adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? 2 Tim. 4.5. Tit.2.10.
Four Meditations from John Owen September 26, 2023
This is a reprint of an article that was first published in the Banner of Truth magazine, July – August 1968. His words remain searching and pertinent today. * * * The Value of the Gospel No men in the world want help like them that want the Gospel. A man may want liberty, and […]
Peacocks and Rutterkins: Calvin the Colloquial Communicator August 31, 2023
John Calvin is thought of, principally, as a theologian. Of course, he was that. But, as Andrew W. Blackwood once told me, in his day he was first of all considered a preacher. Too few of his sermons have been preserved.1 English translations are mainly in 16th century English!2 Nevertheless, the more I read them, […]