Back to Towers Online E-mail Story
Building godly character is part of minister's education too, Johnson says
September 15, 2003
By David Roach
Building godly character is an essential part of a future minister’s college education, said Boyce College Dean Jerry Johnson.
Preaching at the Boyce’s opening chapel for the fall semester Aug. 27, Johnson told students that a minister’s effectiveness hinges upon the extent to which he orders his ways before the Lord. A minister who orders his ways before the Lord in college, Johnson said, will develop character that pleases God and prepares him for a lifetime ministry.
“You’re here studying for ministry, preparing for ministry, planning for ministry. And if the call is genuine and sincere, I’m sure you don’t want to be just an average professional,” he said. “We don’t just want [you] to be a minister, but hopefully an anointed, blessed, mighty, greatly-used minister.”
Using the life of King Jotham in 2 Chronicles 27 as a model, Johnson highlighted several ways that ministerial students should order their ways before the Lord.
First, students must not let youthfulness hinder them from serving God faithfully.
Though students often view college as a time of preparation rather than active ministry, Johnson cautioned against such an attitude. Serving in a local church during college, he said, is actually an important step to a lifetime of faithful ministry.
“I want to remind you that [Charles] Spurgeon pastored the largest and most influential church in London when he was a teenager. Dr. [W.A.] Criswell, one of my heroes, pastored his first church when he was 18. Probably at least two of the disciples that Jesus picked were teenagers,” Johnson said. “... I want to encourage you, if you know God has called you to ministry, not to wait. ... Don’t let your youth keep you from serving right now.”
Another step students must take is to do right in the sight of the Lord, Johnson said.
Newfound freedoms in college make it imperative that students set godly personal standards and resist temptations to stray from the Lord’s commandments, he said.
“Are you going to resolve to do what’s right in the sight of the Lord?” Johnson asked. “I’m talking about what you look at on your computer. I’m talking about academic integrity as you write a paper. No one else will know some of these things but you and God. And you need to resolve today: ‘With God’s strength and God’s help, I’m going to seek to do what’s right in His eyes and live before an audience of one.’”
Remembering the godly example of parents and other Christian mentors can be an encouragement in the process of character development, he said. Just as Jotham followed the godly example of his father and grandfather, Boyce students should look to their own Christian relatives for encouragement to follow God.
“It means a lot to us to think about our godly heritage and to honor that, a heritage which is defending the faith, studying the Scripture, giving ourselves to knowing the Word and preaching the Word,” he said.
Over the next 20 years, faithfulness in ministry will become increasingly difficult to maintain, Johnson said. As religious pluralism and sexual promiscuity escalate, the temptation will increase for ministers to deviate from Scripture.
Boyce graduates, however, must stand firm amid cultural chaos, he said. And they must draw strength from godly character -- character that they will develop during their time in college.
“If you are going to be a minister of the Gospel, if you are a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s going to mean that you don’t let your age keep you from serving, that you do what is right in the sight of the Lord,” Johnson said. “You are a Christian. You have the name of Christ. What your Lord thinks is the most important thing.