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A Friend’s Ordination

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April 21, 2008 by Stephen

Sunday morning I drove down to the Roanoke area to participate in the ordination of my friend, Terry Goodnight. Terry is the Minister to Students at Vinton Baptist Church. I had the privilege to share in his ordination by giving The Charge to the Candidate. It’s a little long, but I want to include it here because I really want to remember this special day in my friend’s life.
Terry and I have known each other for 12 years. We first met in the Spring of 1996 at a preview weekend at Truett Seminary. We both enrolled in the Fall of that year and by the end of our first year of seminary, we had become life-long friends. This time of ordination has been a long time in coming and I am privileged to be a part of this service.

Ordination is simply the setting apart by formal recognition to an office or special service. Of course, ordination is not essential to ministry. Charles H. Spurgeon and D.L. Moody were never ordained, but both had wonderful ministries. Ordination is however, important for both the church and the minister. I was ordained almost one year ago to the day (mine was on April 22). For the longest time, I resisted being ordained. But then things changed. Let me share with you a passage from my blog that I wrote back on November 29, 2005, that I feel illustrates the importance of ordination:
“My pastor has encouraged me to consider ordination not only as part of God’s calling on my life, but also because it would be good for our church. Although he didn’t use these words, ordination would be a part of God’s calling on our church community. I think I feel comfortable with that view of ordination. After all, being a pastor is about living out a shared calling with my church community–it’s our calling!”

In the words of Baptist historian Leon McBeth, “It’s a good thing to recognize God’s call on a person’s life. It’s a way to say, ‘We recognize God has called and gifted you for ministry. Amen, and more power to you.'”

With that in mind, Terry, I’d like to share a verse that reminds me of you. It is Ezra 7:10:
“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”

Terry, I think of three things when I think of you as a minister: you are a life-long learner, you are a passionate teacher, and you love teenagers. With those things in mind, I want to leave you with these challenges:

FIRST, deepen your love relationship with the LORD. Make daily time for God and spend daily time with God. Live out James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you. This is the foundation that you must have in order to be successful as a minister. After God, comes your family, and then your ministry. Don’t fall into the temptation to reverse the order. Terry, I charge you to Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

SECOND, continue to be obedient to the word of God. As you study the word, make it a priority to be diligent in obeying its commands and truths. Live by the saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – Preach the word daily; if necessary, use words. Terry, I charge you to make the Word a lamp to your feet and a light for your path, to make God’s statutes the joy of your heart, and to set your heart on keeping God’s decrees to the very end.

THIRD, continue to love people and care for them. Terry, I have experienced your friendship, love, and care first hand. You have made a difference in my life. Continue to make a difference in people’s lives. Always let people know you love them. Terry, I charge you to keep loving and caring for people.

FOURTH, continue being a person of integrity. As Paul Powell says in his book, The New Ministers Manual, “Effective ministry is based on integrity.” Ministries crumble to pieces when integrity is lacking. Terry, you are a man of integrity and my charge here to you is to keep being the man of integrity that you are.

FIFTH, be sincere in your ministry. Be yourself; don’t put on a front or wear a mask. Now, I don’t think this is going to be a problem. I have never experienced you as anything other than the real deal. You are not false or superficial or full of pride. You are a man of your word and you are someone who can be counted on. The charge here is to keep doing that and to GIVE GOD THE GLORY!

Now, the church has a responsibility to you as well. Church, I charge you to take care of Terry—financially meet his needs, give him time for himself and his (future) family, support him in prayer, accept him as a leader, do your part in the work of the ministry, encourage him, and cooperate together in setting goals for the future of Vinton Baptist Church. Remember that in ordaining Terry, you are all in the ministry together.

FINALLY, with apologies to Paul, In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge Terry: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. Love God with your whole being. Obey the Word at all times. Love and care for people. Live with integrity each and every day. And give God the Glory in all you do.

That night, Terry’s youth “ordained” him in their own special way. You gotta love youth ministry!

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One thought on “A Friend’s Ordination

  1. Tom says:

    Tell Terry I said congrats. great job on the charge chief.

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