I have in my office many books of various authors. One in particular was a gift from a dear sister in Christ – Maye Coil. She was the wife of the late Charles Coil, a great Christian man and role model for all preachers wherever they might find themselves in their career. The book is “Bible Questions and Answers,” by Cecil May Jr. It is inscribed with great encouragement toward my work and for that I am very thankful. I have many books. I couldn’t begin to calculate the monetary value of these sets and individual volumes, but it would have to be in the thousands. The sentimental value is incalculable. Be sure they are all references or commentaries or other such resources that pertain to the Bible. Men and women like Charles and Maye are more valuable to the work of the Lord than can possibly be tallied. They present themselves as examples of sacrifice and honor in a world which doesn’t deserve their presence, but is blessed by it none the less. (Hebrews 11:38) Cecil May, Jr. was a man of similar values and efforts. I have been blessed to be impacted by great men of God in my life. That has been uplifting and humbling.
As a minister Charles Coil was truly a man who took his “vocation” seriously. So much so that his life was given to ministry in a variety of forms, from staff academics, teaching, as well as, preaching the Gospel at any available opportunity. What is it that makes men like this? How do we not only train, but also inspire men to take the pulpit and keep to the effort in spite of the obstacles or difficulties? While I realize the gravity and complexity of my question, I can relay what I have observed of men who shine brightly in this dark world.
Any great preacher begins with love. (1 Corinthians 13) One must first love God more than his own life. We have to give ourselves over to the service of our Father, and the care taking of His church. In order to preach I have to begin with the foundation of any sincere effort for eternity – Love. Great men of God will always love God’s people. Admittedly, they can be a handful. But, so can preachers from time to time. Hopefully the messenger and the Church can love each other through the hard times, so that we can all enjoy each other in eternity.
Great men of God share the inspired message of God as it is delivered in the pages of the Bible. (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14) They stick to the path illuminated by God, as if walking on the only path between two steep cliffs. To deviate would mean catastrophe for all involved. The world is not better with a fallen messenger, an undelivered message, or a lost world. It can be hard and sometimes pretty lonely, but the relationship, to be had with God, is far beyond explanation. Suffice it say that to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
Finally, great men of God should remain focused. (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10) We can all be distracted by life. Our own weaknesses, fallabilities, and frailties can cause us to lose track of our direction and purpose. All of the great men of God are focused on the task at hand. All of the great men I have known have always had time to explain the most fundamental aspect of faith to the inquisitive. They are kind and patient and abounding in wisdom. This is true of all the greats.
Men of the Church! – Let us all aspire to be great men of God. May we always work toward growing spiritually. Not for historical accolade, but for the common good of our mission and the Glory of the Lord. Let our strength be Christ, and our goal be Heaven and our message be peace. We have all been blessed with giants and upon their shoulders we can carry out the great commission. (Mark 16:14-20; Matthew 28:16-20) Women of the church should have a place of honor and respect in our homes and in our congregations. They are a blessing in more ways than I can innumerate here, but they have the ability to effect change and mend hearts through God’s wisdom, Gospel teaching and example. Maybe, at some time in the future, I can write about the great women of God who have helped me as a minster and a Christian man.