Philip Harrelson offers three tips for personal growth. Read Part 1 here.
1. Abide still
One the first matters of personal growth comes to us in I Timothy 1:3–4. Paul instructed Timothy to “abide still” and “charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” The first word of personal growth is to stay. A minister’s personal growth is greatly enhanced when he is willing to buckle down and refuse to leave even though his nest may be very uncomfortable.
Paul instructed Timothy to “abide still” and “charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”
Acts 19 and history indicate Ephesus was a difficult situation. Timothy was blessed in the fact that the apostolic doctrine had been established among some of John’s disciples, but he had to battle those of the synagogue who were stubbornly opposing him. He also contended with precursors of Gnosticism, the occult, magic, sensuality, and immorality, which were part of the worship of Diana.
Could it be that staying in the fight in our local ministry contexts plays a significant role in our personal growth? Some secular leadership techniques might encourage a compromise to those problems. What would have happened if Timothy had capitulated and quit? The outcome would not have been as we know it now.
2. Labor fervently in prayer
The second matter that Paul moved Timothy toward was prayer. I Timothy 2:1 encourages “first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.” The personal growth plan for an apostolic minister is prayer. It has been said, “He that is more frequent in his pulpit to his people than he is in the closet for his people is a sorry watchman.” Paul noted that Epaphras “labored fervently” in prayer for those under his charge (Colossians 4:12–13). Prayerlessness leads to great emptiness in a minister’s soul. We may preach and minister in prayerlessness for a while, but we do nothing but go through the motions when we do. One matter that can greatly encourage a commitment to prayer is to keep a prayer journal. It is a great encouragement to pick up the prayer journal and thumb back six or eight months to see that the Lord is hearing our voice.Your personal growth plan demands an increasing need for spiritual discernment (I Timothy 4:1–3). Click To Tweet
We should be fearful to attempt to fully carry out apostolic ministry with anemic prayer lives. Ministers who pray are the ones who will make a difference.
3. Preach the Word
Another matter of personal growth involves study and preaching (II Timothy 2:15; 4:1–4). Our preaching is ever so crucial.
We are not motivational speakers but vessels who cry out from the wall with a warning.
The devil would love to make us think that it should be minimized and set aside for more contemporary methods. However, it was the foolishness of preaching that God chose as the vehicle for spreading the gospel (I Corinthians 1:17, 21–25). The apostolic prophetic voice will become hoarse if an encroaching worldliness is not confronted by biblical preaching.
We are not motivational speakers but vessels who cry out from the wall with a warning. Our personal growth is enhanced when we are willing to dig into the deep doctrinal areas of the Bible. While topical preaching may serve its place the majority of the time, when one relies on that kind of preaching, there is simply a rearrangement of what has already been learned. Develop a preaching plan that covers large portions of Scripture and help the congregation get a grasp on theology.
A few other areas of personal growth to be explored in a minister’s life can be found in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. We are in a spiritual war (I Timothy 1:18–19) that will cultivate spiritual growth. A minister needs to have the personal discipline of godliness and holiness (I Timothy 4:7). Your personal growth plan demands an increasing need for spiritual discernment (I Timothy 4:1–3). We do well when we take to heart the matter of money and materialism (I Timothy 6:6–10). These few should open up some new avenues to explore. This is making “full proof” of your ministry (II Timothy 4:5).
Philip Harrelson pastors the United Pentecostal Church in Dothan, Alabama. He has served on the district board member and as an executive presbyter of the Southeastern Region of the United Pentecostal Church International. He maintains the Barnabas Blog, which is designed to encourage ministers.
(A version of this content originally appeared in Forward.)
Resources and Links for Personal Growth
For personal growth resources, consider books by Eugene Wilson.