17 years ago I wrote Chuck Swindoll, seeking his advice regarding preaching and church leadership. At the time Chuck Swindoll was one of the most popular and beloved Senior Pastors in the United States.
I wrote him because I had become convinced that I was not cut out to be a pastor – I didn’t have the right personality, and instead of slick self-help sermons, I simply wanted to teach the Bible.
Before quitting, I thought I’d throw up a half court shot and write the one person I really admired. Surprisingly he wrote me back.
I’m here, in some small part, because this letter gave me the encouragement I needed.
I’ve kept his letter in what I call my “Rainy Day File” – a large file where I keep all the nice notes and letters people have written me over the years. I tell Senior Pastors that I coach to keep one of these.
Every once in a while I pull this out and read it so my grip will get a little tighter on the plow.
Read it, I think you’ll be encouraged as well:
DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
May 18, 1998
Thank you for your thoughtful letter.
Though I don’t have time to prepare a lengthy reply, I will offer some brief words of encouragement.
First, Paul’s mandate to Timothy in his second letter to him was, “Preach the Word.” He did not say, “grow the church.” That is God’s work. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling that unless you are out there on the pavement meeting people and making things happen, the church won’t grow. I’m convinced if you are faithful to who you are and all God has called you to be and if you remain committed to preaching the Word, God will bless your ministry.
Second, relax. You need to be yourself to the glory of God. Period. The more you try to contort yourself into someone you are not, the more ineffective you will be in ministry.
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If your conviction is that you must preach expository messages, then by all means do just that. Surround yourself with trustworthy individuals on your staff who love God’s people and who are genuine servants of Christ. That is all I did and growth came from the Lord. We had no secret at Fullerton Church. Radio had nothing to do with our growth. God simply does what He says He will do: bless His Word.
Whatever you do, don’t forget that last sentence, Brian.
Charles R. Swindoll
Senior Pastors – what is one of the encouragements you’ve received during your time as a pastor that you cherish?
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