As we graduated our twenty-sixth class from West Coast Baptist College last week, I was full of gratitude to the Lord for His faithfulness in each graduate’s life. Each graduate who received his or her diploma last week is the fruit of many investments from family, home churches, and, of course, the faculty of WCBC.
Today, there are nearly three thousand graduates of West Coast Baptist College serving the Lord around the globe. I pray for each one regularly, and I’m so grateful for how the Lord is using them to fulfill the Great Commission through local church ministry. It was a blessing to see some back on campus for commencement.
As I gave the commencement message this year, I challenged the graduates with a few final truths from Philippians 3 before they begin in ministry.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (Philippians 3:13–17)
I love this passage, and I love the truths it gives us for pursuing Christ as we serve Him. The challenge below is relevant to every Christian and to every servant of the Lord in ministry. But if you are a WCBC alumnus, this post is especially for you.
I want to challenge you, as I challenged our newest graduates last week, to make these three choices:
1. Receive God’s Grace
If you will serve the Lord effectively you need something no college, pastor, parent, or mentor can give you—God’s grace.If you will serve the Lord effectively you need something no college, pastor, parent, or mentor can give you—God’s grace. Click To Tweet
God’s grace enables you to humbly admit your need for Him and for His help. It enables you to recognize that you have not yet apprehended. And at the same time, it enables you to reach forward and press toward “the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
We live and serve the Lord in a challenging season. There are pressures from every angle—including doctrinal and philosophical pressures pushing churches toward a humanist-secular mold. You need God’s sufficient grace to endure the pressure and to stand strong for Him in the midst of it.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
2. Make Jesus Your Goal
People who serve the Lord in ministry have a variety of goals. Some want to build personal influence. Some want to build a church to a particular size. Some hope to reach particular benchmarks in the number of people they lead to Christ or students they teach in a Christian school. Paul had a single goal, and that goal was Jesus.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:8)
To Paul, knowing Christ was his chief desire. It was toward the prize of Christ that Paul pressed and reached.
If you make growth your goal, you’ll be distraught during pandemics that shut down your best-laid plans. If you make the approval of others your goal, you’ll be disheartened when you don’t gain their attention or when your mentors fail you. If you make any form of outward success your goal, you’ll be tempted to sacrifice your responsibilities to your family to reach it. But if you make Jesus your goal, you will be fulfilled in knowing Him.
Live to know Christ, serve Christ, and please Christ—and your life will count for Christ.Live to know Christ, serve Christ, and please Christ—and your life will count for Christ. Click To Tweet
3. Ask for Needed Guidance
There are many voices on today’s ministry landscape offering to provide guidance. And the only way to know the reliability of any one of these voices is to compare it to the rule of Scripture.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
The Holy Spirit is our ultimate guide, and He uses the very Word of God to direct us. Seek His guidance. Submit to His leading. Seek His filling for ministry.
When it comes to guidance, however, God also uses godly men and women to help give us needed direction. Even in Philippians 3, after Paul repeatedly emphasized knowing Christ, he invited the Philippian believers to, “be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
Christians who say, “I follow no man—only Christ,” sound spiritual. But the philosophy is unbiblical, and it is often masking a proud desire to follow self.
Better than following self or worshiping human leaders is to be filled with the Spirit and follow spiritual leaders so long as their example matches God’s Word.Better than following self or worshiping human leaders is to be filled with the Spirit and follow spiritual leaders so long as their example matches God’s Word. Click To Tweet
To WCBC alumni, in particular, the open door policy that was here when you were a college student is still available. I know I speak for all of our faculty when I say that if we can be a help to you in any way, we are a phone call or email away.
I pray that these truths are an encouragement to you. And I want you to know that I love and pray for you and am grateful for how God is using you to reach the world with the gospel.