When I think of my friend and ministry mentor Ray Pritchard, two different verses from the Book of Proverbs come to mind: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” and “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 18:24; 27:17). It’s good to have a faithful friend and it’s great to have a mentor who matters.
Over 13 years ago, I had the privilege of serving as Ray’s associate pastor and much of what I know about ministry has come from long discussions with him over fajitas in a Mexican restaurant or by listening to him preach and teach. We’ve continued to keep in touch over the years and I now serve on the board of his newly formed “Keep Believing Ministries” (see www.keepbelieving.com).
Here are 10 lessons that I have learned from Pastor Ray over the years.
1. Preach expositionally. That means that preaching should come directly from a passage of Scripture, not from my own thoughts or from the thoughts of others.
2. Prepare a sermon manuscript and distribute it widely. I make printed manuscripts available of every message I preach, post them on our website and send them out by email to people.
3. Theology matters. It’s important to be precise in what we believe and yet be gracious with those with whom we disagree.
4. Love your leaders. I observed how Ray built relationships with his key ministry leaders and I strive to do the same.
5. Write a daily blog. Ray has always encouraged me to write and was the first one to encourage me to set up a blog, before I even knew what one was. I’ve been posting daily to this blog for over two years now.
6. Preach through the Book of Romans. Ray challenged me several years ago to preach verse-by-verse through this amazing New Testament book. Lord willing, by the end of the summer, we will be halfway through.
7. “He is God and we’re not.” Pastor Ray argues that if we could just keep this truth in mind, we’d figure out that we are called to serve, not to be served.
8. “Faith is belief, coupled with some unbelief, and then acting on the belief part.” I’ll never forget a sermon Ray preached in which he helped us see that if we have faith we better act on that faith. The good news is that having some doubt does not disqualify us.
9. Meet as many people as possible. Ray has an unusual ability to connect and network with everyone he meets. He always seems to know somebody who knows someone else. He leverages these relationships in order to encourage believers and evangelize those who don’t know Jesus yet.
10. Preach the Gospel with passion and urgency. The only way to heaven is through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t procrastinate making the most important decision of your life. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation. If you’re ready to become a child of God, you must first believe and then receive as John 1:12 says: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Do you have a faithful friend and a mentor who matters? If not, find one today. Do you see someone in need of a mentoring friendship? If so, be that kind of friend today. You’ll never know what kind of influence you can have until you start passing along the lessons you’ve learned.