"Full Proof of Thy Ministry"

Why should not every worker make an honest check on himself, to deter­mine whether or not he is making full proof of his ministry?

By J. L. McElhany

The words of admonition by the apostle Paul to Timothy, "Make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Tim. 4: 5), are as pertinent and applicable to the gospel minister today as they were when written. Every man called to the ministry should constantly see to it that he is measuring fully up to the standard regulating the call. Having been so called, and the call having been confirmed by the church through or­dination, the minister is from that time on continually to make full proof of that ministry. If a man is failing to make " full proof," then he should ear­nestly endeavor to seek the cause for his failure, and to overcome it. If lie is unsuccessful in this, let him honestly recognize the facts in the situation, and give place to the worker who will measure up to the divine requirements.

The frequency of appeal by confer­ence officers for counsel concerning workers who, by all the divine stand­ards of their calling, are failing to make " full proof," clearly indicates this to be a present-day problem. In some conferences the situation is ex­tremely grave. Year after year passes without any growth in membership; the churches languish, and seldom are new churches raised up. Workers who ought to be growing in power and strength as soul winners, seem con­tent to work along in a groove, with­out advancement or results. Confer­ence committees are distressed and perplexed to know how to plan for such workers, and at the same time carry forward their work in a strong, pro­gressive manner.

Why should not every worker make an honest check on himself, to deter­mine whether or not he is making full proof of his ministry? While it cannot be expected that any minister will ever find that he measures completely to the full bounds of perfection as re­vealed in the standard set before us, yet none are warranted in making this fact the bulwark behind which to en­trench failure in the work of God.

In studying this present-day problem of failure to make " full proof " of the divine call to the ministry, as it is presented from the angle of many of our conferences, we are compelled to say that where men continue to exhaust their energies in fruitless ministry, candid advice should then be given to take up some other calling. Why should men continue in the ministry year after year and their labors be very largely or totally devoid of results? Surely it would be in harmony with the following instruction from the spirit of prophecy to counsel such workers to seek other lines of work aside from the ministry, but lines in which they may effectively serve the cause of God, just as so many of our faithful lay brethren do:

"Our ministers will have to render to God an account for the rusting of the talents He has given to improve by exercise. They might have done tenfold more work intelligently had they cared to become intellectual giants. Their whole experience in their high calling is cheapened because they are content to remain where they are. Their efforts to acquire knowl­edge will not in the least hinder their spiritual growth if they will study with right motives and proper aims." "Testimonies to Ministers," p. 194.

"There needs to be an elevating, up­lifting power, a constant growth in the knowledge of God and the truth, on the part of one who is seeking the salvation of souls. If the minister utters words drawn from the living oracles of God; if he believes in and expects the co-operation of Christ, whose servant he is; if he hides self and exalts Jesus, the world's Re­deemer, his words will reach the hearts of his hearers, and his work will bear the divine credentials."—Id., p. 144.

"God holds us responsible for all that we might be, if we would improve our talents. We shall be judged accord­ing to what we ought to have been, but were not; what we might have done, but did not accomplish, because we did not use our powers to glorify God. For all knowledge that we might have gained but did not, there will be an eternal loss, even if we do not lose our souls. All our influence belongs to God. All that we acquire is to be used to His glory. All the property that the Lord has intrusted to us is to be held on the altar of God, to be returned to Him again. We are working out our own destiny. May God help us all to be wise for eternity."—Id., p. 147.

We earnestly appeal to each of our ministers and workers to give serious heed to these words of instruction, and above all things to " make full proof of thy ministry."

Washington, D. C.

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By J. L. McElhany

September 1928

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