Russell Moore: What I’ve Learned in 20 Years of Ministry

“We are to be separate from sin, never separate from sinners. It is far easier to do the reverse.”

7. Bible study is easy for me; prayer is hard. I’ve found that, like Israel in the desert, God often has to make me hunger to the point that I know that I do not live by bread alone, and must ask for the bread I do live by.

8. I’ve found that nothing can reach me at the most primal spiritual level like hymns I’ve known my whole life. New songs can teach me much, but “Just As I Am” can reduce me to tears of gratitude. Losing a hymnody that connects generations may be one of our greatest losses as a church.

9. Of all the families I’ve counseled through the wreckage of adultery, I don’t know of one where the issue was about sex. Usually it’s about the guilty parties trying to recapture the excitement of high school or college dating and the hormonal rush that comes with it. Our cultural definitions, often mediated through music, of what “love” is and should feel like, contribute to this.

10. Most of the theological errors I find in myself or in others are rooted in putting an “either/or” where biblically there’s a “both/and”—and vice-versa.

11. It’s important to tell the difference between a Simon Magus who needs to be rebuked (Acts 8:18-23), and an Apollos who just needs more patient instruction (Acts 18:25-26), between the Philippian Christians who need gentle reminders and Galatian heretics who must be decisively repudiated.

12. We are to be separate from sin, never separate from sinners. It is far easier to do the reverse. And the charge “He eats with tax collectors and sinners” still works. Courage means not fearing those who will seek to intimidate you from following Christ toward those who are sick and in need of a physician.

From Outreach Magazine  Be Present as a Leader

13. The Scripture calls us to judge those on the inside, who bear the name of brother, and not those on the outside (1 Corinthians 5:9-12). Doing the reverse can make for a much easier ministry, as a hack.

14. You can’t avoid criticism. Decide ahead of time what sorts of criticism you would want said about you, remembered at your graveside. When that sort of criticism comes, take time to thank God for it. Make sure the criticism comes the way it does for Jesus—in stereo. (Luke 7:33-34).

15. Cultural Christianity is a great comfort for some people. These are people who don’t have a strong doctrine of hell. If there is no judgment, then nominal Christianity is great since it prompts people to behave and live good lives. If there is a hell (and I agree with Jesus that there is) then cultural, nominal Christianity is worse than secularism or hedonism or atheism or paganism because it says “You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), but pretends those words are coming from Jesus himself. This leads to death, and to taking the Lord’s name in vain, all at the same time.

16. I’ve found that most of the things I considered cul-de-sacs in my ministry turned out to be, in light of later years, no such things. God was using friendships made, books read, conversations had, jobs held, catastrophes experienced, in ways I never could have predicted. And those are just the things I know about.

17. I can’t think of one thing that I worried about early in ministry that ever turned out to be a worry later on. For instance, I agonized for long sleepless nights when first called to ministry about my fear of talking in front of people. You would think that this realization would make it easier to “be anxious for nothing,” but I still must struggle to trust God.