My Quest ...
In my continual search for godly mentors, it has been through classic books that I have found men of God to meet with, learn from and follow after. I thank God for 'older' mentors such as Edwards, Calvin, Spurgeon, Murray and Bounds ... and for contemporary mentors such as Packer, Piper, Peterson, and Willard.
Their ministry through writing has brought strength in times of weakness and brought hope in days of darkness. Even through simple pages in a book, I have been challenged and sharpened, convicted and encouraged.
And in reflecting upon my current sabbatical, I was strengthened by the words of Charles H. Spurgeon from his "Lectures to My Students." This book is basically the notes/lectures he gave his students who were preparing for ministry (many, many years ago). Before talking about "doing" ministry, he begins with this principle for the Christian life:
Whatever it takes, protect your inner self ...
"It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for [these things] are remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul and body are my nearest [tools] for sacred service."
The thing to protect, nurture and cultivate more than anything else is a heart that is still before God and growing in His love.
... for you are God's tool to use ...
"My spiritual facilities and my inner life are weapons of war ... Remember, you are God's sword, His instrument - I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name ... it is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is [a powerful] weapon in the hands of God."
If I am God's tool, then I must take good care of that tool ... and the best way to care for that tool, is to care for the tool's inner soul. My application of this principle has been to take this sabbatical so that my inner man is restored. For a muscle in constant use does not grow stronger, but weaker. But after vigorous use, it is torn and weakened, then it is during a time of rest that the muscle grows stronger.
Thank You ... God.
"God, thank you that I could work hard for you these past 10 years ... and thank you that during that time, I was torn. Thank you that in being torn, I am weak ... and that during this time of rest, you are making me strong."
Lectures to My Students
By Charles Spurgeon