Monday, February 20, 2012

Hope for Young Clergy

“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And remember! A Methodist preacher is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist discipline! Therefore you will need all the sense you have, and to have all your wits about you!”
In the “Large” Minutes, Wesley listed the twelve rules that he expected his helpers to follow. The above quotation is Rule 11 on the list, and it reflects two of the steps in the Wesleyan order of salvation (Repentance and Holiness) but it is missing the middle step, Faith.

Ministering to people as they go through these stages was a full-time job in Wesley’s estimation. Explaining to folks the meaning of these terms, teaching them the scripture that supports this definition of salvation, sharing the testimonials of those who have experienced this work of grace, searching for the words that will inspire spiritual maturation, exercising the spiritual disciplines that keeps the minister connected to this grace, listening to the struggles of others as they try to repent, have faith, and live a holy life, and encouraging them to continue to seek God’s grace can fill up the better part of every day.

You have nothing to do but to repent, have faith, and be holy. You have nothing to do but to encourage others to open up to this rhythm of grace. Every other task can wait. The demands of the church building, the church budget, the church hierarchy are secondary. They are to support the process of salvation not supplant it.

Fill in the Blank-- “You have nothing to do but to ___________.” The clergy who can identify their ministry goal and pursue it with discipline will be more effective than those who allow external objectives to dominate their schedules. The clergy who are able to define for themselves what it means to save souls, who are able to explain how that saving process happened for them and how it can happened for others, are the clergy who are more likely to avoid professional burnout.