We hear a lot of lists today, 5 this to do that, 10 of these to help those, 4 easy steps to change this or that and Etc. But if we think this is new its not. John Wesley more than 200 years ago put together a list of twelve for preachers, an advice list that I think in different ways applies to all of us who want to follow Christ well as we serve God and reflect His good news into our world. I have summarized a little on this list, modernized some as well, but I think you will get the gist of what John Wesley the founder of Methodism was getting at as he aimed this advice directly at preachers:
- Be diligent, this is serious business.
- Be serious, holiness is a choice.
- Don’t let moral failure wreck you or your witness.
- Get advice before marriage, ministry will be hard on both of you.
- Believe evil of no one, mercy and grace is a choice.
- Speak evil of no one, build up those around you.
- Hold others accountable in love.
- A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of all.
- Be ashamed of nothing but sin, nothing else is beneath you. Be Humble.
- Be on time.
- You have nothing to do but save souls. Spend your life in this work.
- Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a child of the Gospel; preach, visit, read and meditate, pray, labor in our Lord’s vineyard.
I got to spend a few hours yesterday with the other Center Directors for the Central Texas Conference, the assistant to the Bishop, the Dean of the Cabinet and our Bishop. In the wake of another terrorist attack, in this case a white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, followed quickly by another terror attack by a radical Islamist in Spain we discussed “What is the Answer?” We quickly came to the decision that political solutions were important, and that many other responses were equally vital, but the top answer was Jesus Christ is the answer, His Church is the answer, preaching is the answer, making real, serious, I love God, disciples of Jesus Christ is the answer. Peoples whose hearts and attitudes have been changed by receiving God’s grace in Jesus Christ who reflected that grace into the lives of others is the answer. We must preach against racism and for love; this is not optional. But we can never forget that the job of the Church is to “Offer them Christ”, the job of the preacher is to “Offer them Christ”, the words John Wesley said to Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury when he sent these soon to be bishops to America in 1784 the same words that must still drive the Church and the serious follow of Christ today.
God give us success! Psalm 118:25