Back in the 1990s Scott and I preached at different congregations in the same city. Twenty years later we ran into each other. He probed, “Do you remember our first meeting in Memphis? I asked you for advice. You told me three things.”
After blinking and trying not to act embarrassed, I confessed, “I don’t remember what I said.”
Scott graciously reminded me that when he asked me to list the most important things he could do as a new minister, I said:
- Preaching. Make powerful and biblical preaching the most important thing you do, for that is the place where you will have the most influence. Give your best effort to preparing sermons. Make sure your lessons include material that reflects a solid biblical foundation. Preach in relevant language. Call for a verdict. Those traits are the highest form of leadership for a preacher.
- Evangelism. In most congregations if the preacher wins people to Christ, then some of the members will follow suit. Nothing lights a fire in a church like baptisms on Sunday.
- Leadership. Most congregations need leaders. Be like Jesus. Set the vision. Pursue the mission. Win the lost. Help the needy. Face the opposition.
As Scott knowingly rattled off the three points, I must admit that I was thinking, “That sounds really good.” It seemed inappropriate to take credit for such insights, but the truth of the advice proved its value. I had forgotten our conversation, but I continue to practice those three points.
Scott, thank you for reminding me of our lunchtime conversation!