October, the Pastors’ Appreciation Month, is winding down. Thanks for all the expressions of love and appreciation. What an honor and privilege it has been to be of service to you. Thirty-five years ago, Dahl and I decided to commit to the pastoral ministry. They say that hindsight is 20/20. Reflecting on my experiences so far, these are some things I would like to say to my 18-year old self, if that were possible.

1. God called you to be on mission with him

You heard your pastor say that being a pastor is the highest calling in life. That’s not true. He and his peers have romanticized the pastorate to the point of deepening the clergy-laity divide. The truth is that God called all Christians to join him on his mission of blessing all the families on earth for his glory—regardless of their vocation or status in life. They are called to be “fishers of people,” “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” wherever God planted them.a So, learn more about the mission of God and find out how he wants you to participate in his mission.

2. Cultivate your faith in God

As a Christian, you are journeying with an infinite, all-powerful and all-knowing God. His ways are higher than yours. In all your assignments, God is able to do more than you could ever ask or imagine.b So let God lead you. Trust him. Live a life of faith. He will amaze you each step of the way.

3. Love your family

Let the love of Christ control you.c You will get married someday. Love your wife intensely, passionately and unconditionally. Love her just like Christ loves the church. Love your kids, too. There would be times when you would want to trade them for others, but you are exactly the father they need. Love your parents, too, especially your mother. She has been going through insurmountable challenges. You are in the best position to support and love her.

4. Develop lifelong friendships

You have classmates from different provinces and backgrounds. When you graduate, you will get many more opportunities to meet people and work with them. Get to know them and commit to life-long friendships with them, if possible. Try to gain a new friend by the end of each day. No personal agenda needed. People around you need a friend like you; you will need one too. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”d

5. Learn languages

You already speak Tagalog and English well. You grew up around people who speak Ilocano, Cebuano, Hokkien and Mandarin. Learn these languages too. You are currently learning Spanish; master it. And since you are serious in studying the Bible, learn biblical Hebrew and Greek as well. By the way, don’t ignore your desire to learn sign language. The world is becoming a global community. Speaking these languages will certainly enlarge your influence as a witness for Christ to the nations.e

Be intentional with these pursuits. Don’t just hope for these to happen. Work on them. Don’t be impatient. You have the rest of your life to grow in these areas. Get on with it!

a Matthew 4:19; 5:14-15 b Ephesians 3:20 c 2 Corinthians 5:14 d Proverbs 27:17 e Matthew 28:19

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