Give opportunities to serve so spiritual gifts are used, exposed, and cultivated:
Secondly, I suggest that the pastoral mentor give preacher boys opportunities to serve in the local church, so that their spiritual gifts are used, exposed, and cultivated. There are three primary passages that come to mind when I recommend this aspect of pastoral mentoring: Ephesians 4, I Timothy 4, and I Peter 4.
First, consider the importance of stewardship. God gifts each of his children uniquely to function as faithful stewards within the local church, for the edification of the rest of the body. I love the body analogy that God ordained to explain this concept of the local church. Think about all the different parts of the body that must work together to catch a football. The eyes must see the ball. The hands must reach out for the ball. The feet must run toward the ball. The mind must process all the information that the eyes receive so the rest of the parts will function together to catch the ball. The local church is the same way. Each member of the church carries an integral part in the healthy function of that church. No member can do it all alone. If one member of the body is not doing its part, the rest of the body suffers. Perhaps we should not only view mentoring as benefitting the preacher boy, but as a process that benefits the entire body. If God truly has gifted this young man as he thinks, then he has a responsibility to be faithful as a steward of the gifts of God to the degree that he is given opportunity in that local church. Ephesians 4:11-13 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” Pastor-teacher and teachers are gifts to the local church, for the perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the body. God desires maturity in individuals as well as the body, and He has gifted certain uniquely gifted men to function in that role. I Timothy 4:12-16 says, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” In this passage, Paul commands youthful Timothy to not neglect the gift that he had been given as a trust by God. God actually uniquely revealed this giftedness to Timothy during that apostolic era of church history by means of prophetic utterance. Notice at the end of the passage, that Paul says that by faithfully exercising your giftedness, you will both save yourself and those who hear you. Paul calls Timothy to recognize two great truths concerning his giftedness. First, God would hold him accountable for the use of his gifts within the church. Paul desired that Timothy be found faithful at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where he would receive reward not rebuke and loss! His giftedness was his stewardship! Secondly, Paul called Timothy to realize that his faithfulness or unfaithfulness had direct bearing on others in the local church that God had sovereignly placed him to serve. If Timothy was faithful, it would save others from loss and rebuke. If Timothy was unfaithful, those under his care would suffer loss and rebuke. Even a young man is responsible to be a faithful steward of the gifts of God. He may still be a novice. He may need to be placed in situation under careful watch, yet if gifted is to use those gifts for the glory of God and the edification of the saints within your local assembly. I Peter 4:8 says, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Stewardship is an essential reason that a young man ought to be given opportunity to serve in the local church.
Secondly, consider how important it is that a local church recognizes the giftedness of a preacher boy. In the ordination process, several issues are being evaluated. Conduct, character, family, doctrinal stability, and giftedness are all under the eye of the body and its leadership. How can a body or a pastor recognize the qualifications of a candidate if he is not given opportunity to serve? When the scriptures say that a man must be “apt to teach,” the congregation should recognize this by sitting under his teaching ministry. When the scriptures say that he is “not to be a novice,” the congregation should be able to recognize that the young man is not a novice as they watch him teach and relate to others in the church. Paul told Timothy to be faithful so that his progress would be evident before all. Giftedness is evidenced in the shop of service. Spiritual giftedness is evidenced when we serve in the body.
Thirdly, consider how important it is that a man’s spiritual gifts are cultivated. I view spiritual giftedness much like I view the way that the Holy Spirit illuminates for us the text of Scripture. As I carefully read the text giving careful study to the context, argument of the book, meanings of words, the occasion for the writing of the book, and culture situations, the Holy Spirit opens my understanding to the significance of the Scriptures. I cannot simply read the Bible casually ignoring these important elements of Bible interpretation, and then blame the Holy Spirit’s illumination for fallacious Bible interpretation and application. See the Spirit opens our understanding to the Scriptures as we fulfill our responsibility to carefully study and rightly divide the word of truth. God uniquely gifts and enables his servants in the body as they take their God-given tools and use them in His service. Paul did not just command Timothy to exercise his giftedness in the church. Paul commanded Timothy to “study to show himself approved unto God,” to “meditate” on the instruction of his mentor Paul, and to “take head to himself and to doctrine.” As Timothy was faithful in using the tools that God had given him, God would uniquely enable him to accomplish the tasks that were set before him. Through this faithfulness, Paul said that “his profiting would appear to all,” meaning that the church would see his progress. I exhort pastors to give preacher boys opportunities to serve, so that their spiritual gifts will be wisely used, exposed, and cultivated!