I mentioned to you last week that I had been asked by John Piper to come to a conference at the end of this week and to speak on the subject of an enduring ministry. It's a little bit unusual to be in one church for all of your ministry, into the fourth decade, and he asked if I would speak to the issue of how does one maintain, survive an enduring ministry?
I can honestly say that immediately I looked to the Scripture. There's nothing inside of me to define it. There's nothing I could say about, "Well, I did this...and I did that...and I did the other thing. And this is how I kind of tweaked my life and disciplined my life and ordered my priorities and this is how you have to do it if you want to have an enduring ministry, whether you're a pastor or just a faithful believer." I did what I do instinctively and that is, I went immediately to the Word of God and I asked the question...Who is the model of an enduring ministry? And it was easy for me to answer because he's my hero, the Apostle Paul. He is my spiritual hero. And I have tried to draw out of his life everything that I could squeeze, believe me, to understand the nature of the spiritual life, my life with Christ, to follow him as he follows Christ, that's what he told us to do. And also, to draw out of his life and ministry everything I could about ministry and ministry that is blessed.
And going to the Apostle Paul is the right place to go because it is he who said at the end of his life, "I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." He also said, "I have fought the good fight." It is a battle. It is a struggle. It can be won. You can triumph. You can finish the course. You can keep the integrity of your life to the very end, even through immense struggle....