Odds are you saw the title of this article on social media, and it intrigued you, so you clicked on it. Let me introduce myself: My name is Clint Clifton, and I became a Christian when I was a teenager. Long story short, my family was a mess, a neighbor shared the gospel with my folks and, before I knew it, my messy family was being reconstructed by the power of the gospel of God! It’s a great story for another time.
Over the course of the past 25 years or so, I’ve been called and prepared for ministry and have been planting churches mostly in the D.C. area and in other military communities. The reason for this article though, is that my journey started, in large part, because of a few powerful comments that were made to me as a young man – comments that quite literally changed the course of my life forever.
Let me tell you about two of them that stand out in my mind.
The first comment came from an acquaintance, a woman named Vivian who I didn’t really know very well. I worked with her during a short summer internship at a government office in my hometown between my junior and senior years of high school. Vivian and I also were members at the same church. One day, I was walking by her desk, and she waved me over and said, “Clint, I’ve been watching you at church and at work, and I am convinced that one day God is going to use in a powerful way in ministry. I brought you something that is very dear to me, and I want you to have it.”
Vivian gave me a very old hymnal that was passed down in her family and wrote me a note reiterating her vision for my future. The comment, card and gift were very personal and powerful. Her comment was a seed that grew into a 1 Timothy 3:1 kind of aspiration. Even though I didn’t know Vivian very well, that 30-second conversation played a huge role in my eventual call to ministry.
The second comment was made by a pastor I respected whose name was Greg. This pastor eventually would become an important inspiration in my life and a mentor in my preparation for ministry. Before I saw him as a mentor, however, he stopped me in the hallway of the church building, looked me square in the eye and said, “I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this before, but it’s obvious to most everyone who knows you, you are going to be a pastor.” The comment wasn’t premeditated, it didn’t last more than 15 seconds, but it hit me like a freight train.
It was obvious to everyone who knew me. Really‽ Then why wasn’t it obvious to me‽
We never know how our comments will affect others, but we do know that Proverbs teaches “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Prov. 18:21, ESV). Greg and Vivian used their tongues to speak life into me and I got to enjoy the fruit.
Those two comments, in their cumulative 45 seconds, have resonated for the past 25 years in my life – and will continue to echo in the lives of those affected by my ministry.
Character matters for those who serve God as pastors. You will find 26 qualifications for pastoral ministry in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5. Those qualifications are nearly all character qualities, not competencies or skills – teaching us that, to God, the character of those who serve Him is of utmost importance.
Imagine with me the powerful effect your encouragement could have on someone else. My guess is, you clicked on this article because you do have someone in mind that you think has the gifts and qualities to become a pastor. You can see the potential.
So here’s what I want you to do.
At the top of this article, under the title, you will see three little circles on the right. The one on the far right is grey and has an envelope icon. Click that little button and type in the email address of the person you have in mind. In the message box of your email, write a short message like Vivian’s:
“I’ve been watching you at church and at work and I am convinced that one day God is going to use in a powerful way in ministry. This article made me think of you and I want you to know that I see God’s hand on your life.”
Or like Greg’s:
“I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this before, but it’s obvious to most everyone who knows you, you are going to be a pastor.”
Be bold, because you don’t ever know what kind of impact your words might have on someone.
You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. — Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo
Published April 4, 2022