Sunday night our church had the privilege of licensing to the ministry a young man named Brandon Stokes. Brandon is currently a student at Ouachita Baptist University. He grew up at Grand and first caught my eye about four years ago when he went with me on a mission trip to London. We were riding a train together from West End to New Malden one night when it hit me that God had his hand on Brandon. He was only a sophomore in high school at the time but I knew. I can’t explain it other than a profound sense of discernment. So when Brandon came to me a few years later to tell me God was calling him into the ministry, my only response was, “What took you so long?” As part of the licensing ceremony Sunday evening, I wanted to give a charge to Brandon. As he is making his move into ministry, I challenged him with the following:
- Keep your focus on Jesus.
- Love the Church.
- Uphold the Bible as God’s inerrant, infallible Word. Study it, learn to preach it / teach it.
- Get the best preparation you can (education).
- Be a lifelong learner.
- Marry a woman called to be the wife of a pastor.
- Be sensitive to other people.
- Be willing to go anywhere God wants you to go.
- Be willing to do anything God wants you to do.
- Teach your children to love Jesus and love the Church.
Vocational ministry can do funny things to men. We become arrogant, think more of ourselves than we should, limit God, burn out, take ourselves too serious, internalize hurt, etc. Brandon has what it takes to run the marathon. And that’s what ministry is, not a sprint, but a long obedience in the same direction (to coin a phrase by Eugene Peterson). I hope and pray my advice helps him on his journey.