Maxwell charges new captains
“Pray without ceasing,” “preach with conviction,” and “persevere without compromise”—This was the charge that special guest Commissioner Earle Maxwell gave to the new captains of the Visionaries Session at the appointments service. He also advised them, in the words of A.W. Tozer, to “watch your devotional life. A spirit blessed ministry is founded on a solid devotional life.”
Maxwell emphasized the parallel between the captains’ situation and Timothy’s in the New Testament. In his first letter to Timothy, his protégée, Paul closed with this urgent counsel: “Guard most carefully your divine commission.” (1 Tim. 6:20 JBP) In his second letter, he offers more advice, culminating with: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5 NIV) People will be watching. Maxwell quoted Dwight L. Moody, who said, “Of 100 men, one will read the Bible; the 99 will read the Christian!”
Prayer, Maxwell stated, is for us all an indispensable part of our armory. He reflected that it is not the length but the depth of prayer that is vital. “A deepening prayer life will strengthen your spiritual stature,” he told the captains. He reminded all that those who are too busy to pray are busier than God wants them to be. Finally, he quoted from Dr. Andrew Bonar’s journal: “By the grace of God and the strength of his Holy Spirit I desire to lay down the rule not to speak to man until I have spoken to God. Not to do anything with my hand until I have been upon my knees; not to read letters or papers until I have read something of the Holy Scriptures.”
“Like Timothy, you have been commissioned to proclaim the gospel,” Maxwell told the captains. He encouraged them to maintain their sense of wonder at being chosen by God, and to, like Paul, rejoice in a “holy calling.” (2 Tim. 1:9) “When the devil urges you to question your choice to serve God,” Maxwell said, “remember that you were chosen because of the potential that God saw in you.” (Mark 1:16).
To preach with conviction is to preach from the Word, to preach from the heart, and to persevere without compromise. Your commission, said Maxwell, “is not for the short term…but for life. As with Timothy, so with you, you have a commission to fulfill until the final coming of Christ.”
Be prepared for perilous times and for times of persecution, Maxwell warned. Paul knew by experience the occupational hazards that belonged to his calling. While you may meet similar challenges, yet know that divine support is assured.
Finally, Maxwell charged the captains to be good ministers of Jesus Christ: “Carry out to the full the commission that God gave you” (2 Tim. 4:5) and “Concentrate on winning God’s approval.” (2 Tim. 2:15)