My big brother, Kevin Willis, was there to hear me preach my first sermon, at the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. I was a boy preacher, 11 years old.
It was some years before he heard me preach again.
Kevin was in town to preach a meeting. He was scheduled to preach at 3:30. And I had a preaching engagement later that evening. Of course, I went to hear my brother preach. And he came to hear me after his meeting.
I was “on” that night. I preached one of my “sticks”—a familiar sermon I had preached several times before. And I had a built-in amen corner, as a group of my young preacher friends were also present. Beyond that, the Lord seemed to smile on the worship service, including the preaching moment.
I could not tell how my brother received the sermon as he sat in the service. But I could not wait to hear what he had to say afterward. It didn’t take me long to find out.
As soon as we got outside, Kevin put his arm around me and pulled me to the side. “I want to say something to you,” he whispered. “There are two things I want to tell you. First of all, everything I have heard about you is true. You’re a really good young preacher. And I am very proud of you. But the second thing I need to say to you is that you need to forget it.”
That was it. That’s all he said.
We then went to eat. I really enjoyed the time of fellowship with my brother and friends. But I was secretly rubbed by Kevin’s comments. I didn’t understand what he meant when he told me I was a good preacher but needed to forget it. I didn’t try. I simply concluded my big brother was unnecessarily trying to know his little brother down a few pegs.
I was a teenager then. I am now…no longer a teenager. But I have not forgotten that night. I hope I never will.
Personal holiness, spiritual growth and ministerial faithfulness are rooted in what you remember and what you forget. You should never forget what the Lord has sovereignly and graciously done for you. You should not forget what God has called you from and what God has called you to. You should never forget the wonderful privilege and great responsibility you have as a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But a good minister of Jesus Christ must also know what to forget. More specifically, you must learn to forget yourself. Faithfulness to Christ requires a holy sense of self-forgetfulness. It’s like riding a seesaw. Both persons cannot be up at the same time. As one is up the other is down. You cannot exalt Christ and yourself at the same time. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
- Is the Lord using you?
- Is the Lord blessing your ministry?
- Is the Lord smiling on your gospel work?
- Is the Lord obviously at work in your local church?
- Is the Lord doing great things in and through you?
Great! Way cool! Praise the Lord!
Now forget it.