If you had the privilege or responsibility of giving one piece of advice to a new missionary or new pastor, what would it be?
One website I read said, “Be sure your belt fits, especially if you are large.” It was the first website that was listed for advice to ministers.
Another site said to write a business plan.
Then I found some more sage advice, such as, “Love God’s people.” That one was for pastors.
Adoniram Judson, that renown Baptist missionary of the 19th Century, said, “First, then, let it be a missionary life; that is, come out for life, and not for a limited term. Do not fancy that you have a true missionary spirit, while you are intending all along to leave the heathen soon after acquiring their language. Leave them! For what? To spend the rest of your days in enjoying the ease and plenty of your native land?” (Advice to Missionary Candidates, June 1832)
One of my daughters said to me, “To a pastor, I would say, ‘don’t be afraid of stepping on toes; preach the truth, no matter what.’ To new missionaries I would say, ‘Don’t go in assuming you know everything. Your expectations will get blown out of the water.’”
Someone else said, “To a missionary, ‘don’t lose hope; hang in there.’”
Here is my piece of advice, which applies to both missionaries and pastors: Don’t check your theology at the door. I am increasingly disappointed in the post-modern uncertainty that has begun to characterize our interaction with one another. In the name of tolerance, I fear, we are reluctant to have a strong and evident theology.
If you disciple men and women, but weaken your gospel to accommodate any given world view or culture, you have made weak disciples. And weak disciples equal a weak church.
Yes, there are areas of theology that are non-essential to the Christian faith; no, I am not referring to those areas. Yes, you will think some things to be non-essential that someone else will presume are essential; no, I don’t want to debate you on which are the essentials. I presume you are smart enough and have a walk with Christ that will allow you to develop a good theology.
Just don’t leave it at the door.
Now, what would your advice be?