Letter from Uncle John
I got this letter as a 20-year-old about to go to Seminary. It’s from my uncle, John Crocker, who has been a faithful pastor for many years. I came across it recently, and I’m sharing it with his permission.
August 21, 1987
How very special it was to receive your letter! The main theme of your letter warms my heart. It’s so good to see your desire to be useful to our Lord in the ministry of the Word.
The “call to ministry” is sometimes inexplicable. One who is called may have difficulty explaining it to others, but has at the same time an unshakeable certainty about being called to ministry. Others may have a strong interest and may take steps to prepare for a pastoral ministry and it is during such preparation that the Holy Spirit confirms the call to ministry — uncertainty is transformed into confidence. The fact that your home church has acknowledged your spiritual gifts and has taken steps to equip and encourage you is a solid indicator that you are taking the right steps in going to Seminary.
Your evident honesty and humility as you look at the great opportunity ahead is definitely the right attitude to have. Undoubtedly you know of Hudson Taylor, the missionary-pioneer who opened the inland provinces of China to the Gospel in the last century. A leader of the Church of Scotland once said to Taylor: “You must be sometimes tempted to be proud because of the wonderful way God has used you. I doubt if any man living has had greater honor.” Hudson Taylor responded, “On the contrary, I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for him to use.” I believe God will use in a mighty way those who understand and admit that in the spiritual realm of warfare against the devil, human ingenuity can accomplish nothing that will last for eternity.
It is an awesome privilege to be a pastor or Christian teacher. You will be caring for the precious treasure of God on Earth. I reflect regularly on the counsel of the apostle Paul to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:28, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Remember also 1 Peter 5:1-2. I cannot take lightly my assignment when I read such words.
If there is one appeal I would make to you, if you wish to be a teacher, it is this. Preach and teach for a verdict! Call people to action in obedience to God’s Word. Merely to inform is not sufficient. Make the human will your target in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, be a student. Be a scholar. Help people to understand clearly what God has been doing by His grace in human history. Excel in making biblical information interesting. But don’t be content with that. Our task as preachers and teachers of the Word is to be used of God in effecting a transformation in the lives of unbelievers and in promoting spiritual growth in the lives of believers.
The ultimate goal of the Church is to glorify God on earth. This is why the Church exists. John 17 is one of the most significant portions of Scripture in this respect. Our Lord prayed in v.4: “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou has given me to do.” In v.18 I see that those who follow Christ have a task that corresponds to His great task: “As Thou didst send Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.” We know that Christ came to this earth to save sinners; to reconcile God and His alienated creation; specifically that “creation” in His image and according to His likeness — mankind. This, then, must control and guide our purpose as His Church in the world today. We are involved in a ministry of reconciliation. When we do this, it glorifies God, because mankind created in His image but fallen and having disgraced that image, is renewed in the image of Christ through faith. Through the life of Christ within, that which God intended for his noblest creation, mankind, is accomplished. God sees His own image in the believer because Christ dwells in the believer. That is what glorifies God on earth. That defines our task. Please reflect on what I have written in this paragraph. To glorify God on earth means a whole lot more than Christians usually intend when they utter a platitude about glorifying God.
There I go — preaching even on paper. I think I’d better quit.
Be assured that I will be praying for you; and I appreciate prayers for me and for Liz and Des.
Fondly, your uncle,