I've had 55 years of walking with the Lord-most of them since my student days at Fuller. If I had only things to share with the Fuller faculty, alumni/ae, and students, it would be these 10 keys to having an anointed ministry for our Lord:
1. Discover the character of God.
Our view of God determines everything we do: our lifestyle, the friends we gather around us, the literature we read, the music we enjoy. Everything is determined by our view of God. So study, meditate on, and memorize the attributes of God. We must know and understand who God is--our Creator God and Savior, a God of love, a God of grace, a God of power, a God of wisdom and compassion.
One of the great truths I have learned through the years is that God is holy and that we are commanded to be holy. But we cannot be holy and have his righteousness apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I have traveled around the world, I have seen God do incredible things. Yet, as Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing." So none of us can boast-only rejoice over what God has done and have the assurance that he is with us!
2. Surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
Make Jesus the Lord of your life. To know him is to love him, and to love him is to obey him. Jesus is the one to whom we can dedicate ourselves without reservation. Surrender everything to him. Hold nothing back. Make him Lord, Master, Savior, King. Become his slave.
In 1951 my wife, Vonette, and I signed a contract to become "slaves of Jesus." Now why would we do that? First of all, because Jesus became a slave for us (Phil. 2). God became man, the God-man Jesus. And Paul speaks of himself as Jesus Christ's slave (Rom. 1:1). Peter also calls himself a slave. There's a difference between being a servant and a slave. A servant is paid. A slave is totally under the control and authority of his or her master.
We want the Master to work his incredible miracles through us. But first we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice and be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1).
3. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is ignored today in many of our churches. Others say very little about him, except when reciting the Apostle's Creed. But Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the church on the Day of Pentecost. His last words to the disciples were, "Wait . . . until you're endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). They waited and prayed in Jerusalem until the Day of Pentecost came. Then these weak, impotent, fruitless followers were filled with the Holy Spirit--and their lives were transformed so powerfully that they changed the course of history!
The Holy Spirit indwells us as believers. He wants to empower us. But we cannot be filled with the Spirit unless we willingly surrender to the Lordship of Christ and by faith appropriate that which God has promised us.
4. Study the Word of God.
This is the most important book ever written! The Bible is God's divine, holy, inspired Word. Sixty-six books that were miraculously written by kings and slaves and servants and prophets-and there's no conflict! Imagine the harmony, the unity, of this inspired Holy Book! We must study the Word of God; memorize it; meditate upon it, hide it in our hearts. Our authority is God himself-and his holy, inspired Word. Start each day right by seeking first God's kingdom and by reading his Word. It is more important to our lives than physical food. Read it before you have breakfast. Make it absolutely irrevocable that you begin your day by studying God's Word. Make the Scriptures a priority in everything you read.
5. Practice Spiritual Multiplication.
Submit yourself to personal evangelism, mass evangelism, and every other means of discipling people, to accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission. If you are a pastor or church leader, you cannot expect your laypeople to do evangelism if you are not regularly sharing your faith. Paul says in Second Timothy, as you disciple the members of your church, teach people not only how to be holy, but how to share their faith.
Don't let evangelism be a peripheral thing in your ministry. Make it central-because Jesus made it central. He came to seek and to save the lost. When he gave us the Great Commission, we were given the charge to complete what he came into the world to do 2,000 years ago, to seek and save the lost.
The best way to do this is through spiritual multiplication. Pick out several of your top people, pour your life into them, pray with them, do whatever is necessary to bond with them, and make your ministry in their lives reproductive.
6. Make Prayer and Fasting Part of Your Program.
People come to Christ through prayer. I know of churches in which prayer is more important than preaching, more important than any other part of the program. People gather night after night to pray--they pray by the hundreds. And miracles happen! A few years ago I realized that our great nation that once had been dedicated to God had become decadent, immoral, and degenerate. We had insulted the God of our forefathers. The Bible had been removed from the schools, prayer had become illegal and on and on. When I prayed, "Lord, what can I do?" God impressed upon me to pray and fast for 40 days. (There is no other discipline that meets the conditions of Second Chronicles 7:17, for the healing of the land.) And God honored that glorious time!
7. Ask God to Give You a Vision.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). If we Christian leaders are not aflame with vision, we will not be able to lead others. So ask God to give you a specific call. If you are in the pastorate, and you are not sure God has called you--or if you are serving in a parachurch organization and you are not sure God has called you--go off alone and fast and pray and ask God for your own personal vision, so that you will know what God wants you to do.
About 24 hours after Vonette and I signed that contract in 1951, God gave me the vision for Campus Crusade for Christ. We've had 50 wonderful, incredible, unbelievable years of harvest! There have been problems, of course--thousands of them-opportunities to trust the Lord all day long every day. That keeps us on our knees! So ask God for a vision--your very own vision--and don't be satisfied with mediocrity!
8. Keep Your Priorities Straight.
Covenant with God that you will love him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and that you will love your neighbor as yourself. And, if you are married, your nearest "neighbor" is your spouse. If God has blessed you with a family, the Scriptures tell us that we must put God first, our spouse second, our children third, and our ministry fourth. We are to love our spouse as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. If we have children, we are to care for our children, be with them whenever possible, and let them know we love them.
If everything is in harmony with our families at home, we will have more freedom, more joy, more victory, more power-and our influence for Christ will be much greater.
9. Work as unto the Lord.
If I had to live life over, I would work harder--while keeping my priorities straight. Frank Betcher wrote that the difference between a failure and a successful person is that the successful person works harder. And we all know Thomas Edison's remark that genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Paul says in Colossians, "Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord."
If you are a pastor or a Christian leader, don't be afraid to work hard. Then you will have no time to be disgruntled or to find fault or to criticize others, because you will be too busy telling others about Christ.
10. Have Faith-Trust God!
Jesus said, "According to your faith, be it unto you" (Matt. 9:29). Remember that the Scripture tells us, "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17). Since I've been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (for which there is no cure), some people have asked, "Why has God abandoned you?" Friend, he hasn't abandoned me! As a believer, I cannot lose. When I die, I go to heaven. While I live, I keep serving him.
In a sense, this is one of the great highlights of my life--to face dying with joy, knowing that my life and my beloved and all those who are dear in the movement are in the hands of the great God who loves us. Whatever he wants to do with me, I trust him. God is absolutely faithful. He is trustworthy. So trust God-trust him with everything.