As I think about serving Christ with my whole life, there are many questions to be answered and there is, without doubt, much to be learned. However, in my stage of faith, I’ve already come to some conclusions about some principles that I will live and die by no matter how old I become. These will serve to steer me in the right direction as there are too many voices in the world trying to persuade me about what is important and what isn’t.
This list will probably change in my lifetime, but writing one down will only lead the way to a more refined and God-pleasing list. So, without further adieu, here are my personal mandates in my service to Christ:
I am Absolutely Resolved to
- Love Jesus before everything and anyone else
It is my great conviction that those who live in pursuing the great commandment with their whole lives are those who are most empowered to serve Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, “the love of Christ controls us.” It is Christ’s love which motivates and empowers us to serve Him.
And so I am resolved to place this as highest priority in my life. I will not let ministry get in the way of my devotion to the Lord. I will not let others get into my quiet times. I will not let myself get into way of me praying and worshipping Jesus.
Love of Jesus must be first. Only then will I be obeying God’s greatest commandment in life. (Not to mention finding my soul overflowing with the real power and grace to do ministry!)
- Love others first, then self
Contrary to what our pagan society (and many in the church at that) thinks, the priority of life should look like this: Jesus first, others second, and then I’ll be somewhere back there.
I’m sure this principle will find its application very easily. Praying for people > praying for self. Meeting with someone > eating a lunch. Taking care of wife’s needs > taking care of my needs. And on and on…
People’s resistance to this type of living comes from a poor perception of where joy comes from. Joy comes from putting others before yourself. When you ‘love yourself first’ you get happiness, and I don’t really want that.
Therefore, any neglect in being full of love in ones life is not due to the fact that them not loved themselves enough; it is due to the fact that they have not received God’s great love for them. And well, I got that from my first resolution 🙂
- Put Family first, Church second
Friends you have for a while, but family is for life. I think that bears repeating: family is for life.
However, the demands of church neglect many pastors from their own families. Their ministry can be growing but their relationship with their wives or children is a mess. I am resolved to put my family and my relationships with my wife and kids (which I do not yet have in case you were wondering) before concerns at the church, problems at the church, ministry, preaching, etc.
This is especially important because my family will certainly be under constant attack of the evil one. I must shepherd and take care of them first. If I cannot take care of my own family, how am I expected to care for God’s family? My home must be a place where grace and power to do ministry flow from.
- Living righteously first, Tending to ministry/gifts/fruits second.
It is a great deception that because your ministry is growing, you are growing. The fruit of my ministry can never be a cover up for a moral decay inside. God can use a mule for his purposes; he doesn’t need me. Yes, he will judge the fruits of my labor on the day of Christ (1 Cor 3), but more importantly, he is looking for the fruits of a new birth in me, and the fruits of Christ living in me.
This means more time and energy spent obeying the Word than speaking the Word. One of the greatest fears of mine is to hear the word “hypocrite” coming from the mouth of the Lord Jesus concerning my life.
- Living a lifestyle of praying, fasting, hunger, and devotion
Living the apostolic lifestyle is the bedrock for living in and receiving apostolic power. Simple enough. These disciplines promote not only love for Christ but power from Christ. To commit myself to these is a commitment to a regulated death of self and my strength. (Which is good!)
And so, these are my resolutions as I set myself to obey Christ’s call on my life to serve and love Him.
Grace to all who love Jesus.