Another thing that’s extremely important, I want to go back to it because it’s where I started (in the Q&A), and that’s humility. When I first got to Peru, about two years into being in Peru, there was a man by the name of Rogelio, Cuba. And he was literally found in a garbage dump. He was a drug addict. He had been kicked out of prison when Fidel Castro wanted to clean out his cells. He just sent them all to South America. Cuba could not hardly read. He could not hardly speak Spanish, even though that was his native language. He mumbled so bad, you couldn’t even understand him. When he became a Christian. He had a special grace from God, like no one I have ever seen of humility. After about five years of struggling to read the Bible and just I would have him read it out loud. Read it out loud over and over and over slowly to try to help him get his is speaking correct. Because I knew God had something for him. I just knew it. Well, he was called into the ministry when he felt the call to be in the ministry. He went to every man of God that he knew, thinking that they would tell him that he was too stupid to be in the ministry and they would tell him that that wasn’t God, it was Satan, and he would be off the hook and wouldn’t have to be in the ministry. But everyone he went to, including some of the best missionaries I’ve ever known. They said Cuba, if there was anyone ever called into ministry it is you.
I said all that to say all this. Three years went by and I did not hear him preach. During my last time back in Peru, I had to preach out in the rural areas. And I came back. It was late at night and there was going to be an anniversary service at this other church. So I decided to drop in. I knew I’d make it halfway through the preaching. I got off the bus about a block away and you can hear preachers a block away in Peru because they have outward speakers so that everybody lost people and everybody has to hear whether they want to or not. And I’m hearing this preacher and I honestly thought to myself, who is this man preaching? He was preaching on John 3:16 and was absolutely phenomenal. Who is this in his church preaching? I mean, it’s just phenomenal. I turned the corner and it was Cuba, one of the best works of exegesis I’d ever heard in my life. Clear…his voice, and everything. And I am convinced it was humility. God exalts those who are humble, not only before him, but humble before other men. That is the key.
If you were at a conference and John Piper and R.C. Sproul and somebody else is walking down the hall. And they’re out there and you know, if you walk out that door, you’re going to bump into them. Don’t you walk out that door. Don’t try to meet big people. Do not try to be big people. Do not seek great things for yourself. Don’t be a little denominational bureaucrat who climbs up the ladder. Hide yourself, run away from every… The only thing King Saul ever did right was when they tried to make him king, he hid behind the baggage. If he kept doing that the rest of his life, he wouldn’t had any problems because the moment he realized that God had exalted David to be king, he would have stepped down And said, “Take the place.” Many of you cry out all night. Oh, God, use me. Use me, use me. My question is, why aren’t you crying out? Oh, God, use my friend and let me carry his baggage.
You see how self-centered even ministry can become? Do everything to keep yourself from being exalted so that God literally has to force the hand. Here is the thing: A lot of men are ruined because they’re exalted too early in their life and they really don’t have the stuff. Because you find out that you can preach about it 20 years before you can live it, you’ll be able to preach about 20 years before… and probably about 15 years before you even understand it.
And so and here’s one more thing. Then we will go on to another question. This is not a time for you. This is not your time. This is my time. That might sound arrogant, but it’s true. This is my time. I’m 40. It has just started to be my time. This is not your time. You haven’t gone through 20 years of battles and bloodshed and heartache and trials and persecutions and doubts and dark nights of the soul like saint John… You haven’t gone through that. This is not your time. This is not your time to be a big preacher. This is not your time to be used. This is your time to be made. If you want to get used really, really quick, that’s fine. But you’ll never grow.
Oh, there’s nothing. I must tell you. I must tell you… You’re going to get exactly what you want. Don’t smile. That is the most terrifying thought you could possibly ever have. When I was in seminary, there were two groups of people. There were seminary students who wanted to be big shots. They want to have TV ministries, and they wanted to be big in the denomination. Guess what? 20 years have gone by. They’re there. I wouldn’t walk across the street and listen to them preach. There were other people at seminary who spent most of their nights up crying out to be like Jesus. Some of them right now, my friends, are over in an orphanage in China trying to keep more children alive and preaching the gospel on the streets and they’ll never be heard of. They got exactly what they wanted.
Now, I’m not saying God can’t exalt you to use you in a great way in the denomination or something, but you’re going to get what you want. You want to be a big shot. He’ll make you a big shot. You want to be like Jesus. He’ll make you like Jesus. And He might make you a big shot, but he might not. He will give you what you want… the Pharisees got what they wanted. Do you realize that? They received their reward in full. God is that gracious. They received their reward in full, they wanted that. Even hell what was they wanted. Do you realize that? They wanted a life without God, or they were the religious figure and the god. They got it even in eternity. They got it. When they got there, they realized that that’s not what they should have wanted. Then it was too late. Seek to be like Jesus.
I remember one of the most darkest times in my life was right before I had both of my hips replaced. I was on painkillers. I was just totally out of my mind. I was just…it was horrible. Charismatics had come in and destroyed many of the works in Peru. We were suffering. We didn’t know what to do. I was broken. I was tired from… from living six years of just working hours a day and the war and everything else going on. I can remember walking out on this dirty little balcony in Peru and it was a cloudy, ugly day, just like every day in Lima. And I started crying. I said, Oh, God, why? Why? I hurt so bad. I want to shoot myself in the head. After all these years in ministry, it’s been destroyed by a group of wolves. And now here I am, a black, cloudy day. It can’t be any black or any blacker or any more cloudy than my heart and my life. Why? Why, why? All of a sudden, Lord, impressed upon my heart this one thing. Well, this is exactly what you asked me for. And then I remembered all those times in college and in seminary up with my college buddies, all of us praying around a bed, crying out, Oh, God, make us like Jesus. It doesn’t matter what it takes. Make us like Jesus. Oh, God, make me like Jesus. I don’t care if I ever have a ministry. I don’t care if I die on the foreign mission field a nobody. Just make me like Jesus. I never knew it would hurt so much not to be made like Jesus, because I’m not made like Jesus yet, but to be in the process. I never knew it would hurt so much. And God doesn’t allow you to know it. Even though I’m telling you this, he’s not opening up your mind so that you’ll know exactly what the cost is. Because if you knew what the cost was, you would run from it.
Do you want to be like Jesus or do you want to be a great preacher? Do you want to be like Jesus or do you want to be up there in front of everybody? There are men that are up there in front of everybody who are as superficial as styrofoam, and there are men who are up there in front of everybody and they’re godly men but the attitude and the motive of the heart was entirely different. Totally different. So what do you want?
That’s what I would recommend to anyone going into ministry.