The best preparation for gospel ministry


“Dear Gentlemen,

With unspeakable pleasure have I heard that there seems to be a general concern amongst you about the Things of God. . . . What great things may we now expect to see in New England, since it has pleased God to work so remarkably among the Sons of the Prophets?  Now we may expect a reformation indeed, since it is beginning at the house of God.  A dead Ministry will always make a dead People.  Whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love amongst others.  This, this is the best preparation for the work whereunto you are to be called.  Learning without piety will only render you more capable of promoting the kingdom of the devil.  Henceforward therefore I hope you will enter into your studies, not to get a parish, not to be a polite preacher, but to be a great saint. . . . The more holy you are, the more will God delight to honor you.  He loves to make use of instruments like himself. . . .”

George Whitefield, writing to students at Harvard and Yale preparing for the ministry, 25 July 1741, quoted in Richard L. Bushman, editor, The Great Awakening: Documents on the Revival of Religion, 1740-1745 (New York, 1970), page 38.

(HT: Ray Ortlund)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “The best preparation for gospel ministry

  1. I love this. This was a great encouragement to read for a specific reason. I was in seminary and was tasked to give a 10 minute devotional from Luke 14:7-11 in a NT studies class. I shared for about 5 minutes the principle point of the passage and then for 5 minutes shared my personal struggle to ensure I was at seminary for the right reasons, which was to be a more humble servant of the Lord who saved me. I encouraged my brothers that we must not have the mind that seminary is to ‘advance’ us in the Kingdom or ‘advance’ us in our ministry ‘careers.’ We must not seek the place of honor with our seminary degrees but see it as a tool to grow us in Christ personally so we can lead the local churches we are in to grow with us. I received much negative feedback and criticism from the teacher for that devotion I gave. It was very discouraging and since I struggled with self-doubt already, it was hurtful. But praise God this post of yours from Whitefield has been encouraging about that situation even after 3 years. Thanks for sharing!

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