The Minister’s Three Lessons

The Anglican preacher Charles Simeon (1759­­–1836) was a tremendous, biblical expositor, and greatly used of God as an instrument of evangelical renewal in his time. As a young man, Simeon received a letter from a friend, who confronted the gifted young minister about his pride. Simeon’s reply is worth reflecting on for all Christians, especially preachers of the gospel:

A thousand thanks to you, dear Sir, for many valuable observations in your last letter, especially that which I hope to remember—that ministers, when truly useful, and more perfectly instructed in the ways of God, are ‘off their speed,’ and not so full of their success. Alas, alas, how apt are young ministers (I speak feelingly) to be talking of that great letter I. It would be easier to erase that letter from all the books in the kingdom than to hide it for one hour from the eyes of a vain person.
Another observation, in a former letter of yours, has not escaped my remembrance—the three lessons which a minister has to learn: 1. Humility. 2. Humility. 3. Humility. How long are we learning the true nature of Christianity! A quiet, sober, diligent application of one’s mind and to one’s particular calling in life, and a watchfulness over the evils of the heart, seem very poor attainments to a young Christian; we must be everywhere and everything, or else we are nothing in his esteem . . .

H. G. Mule, Charles Simeon (London: Methuen & Co., 1892) 81­–82.

Eric Smith is the pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in Savannah, Tennessee. He and his wife, Candace, have three children: Coleman, Crockett, and Clarabelle. Eric is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.