Every year I have the joy of giving a charge to the graduates of Fuller’s DMIN program. These ministry leaders have worked hard in their program, and now celebrate this accomplishment with their families, friends, and colleagues. Here is a copy of my remarks:
NEVER GIVE UP by Kurt N. Fredrickson
To all of our Graduates: Congratulations! You made it! It has been a journey sometimes enjoyable, sometimes difficult. Along the way you have encountered ministry challenges and personal challenges. You have wondered, “will I ever finish?” Others have wondered too! But you have completed your work and you are here, and we are proud of you!
Many have helped you along the way because you could not do this alone – colleagues, friends, fellow students, and most of all, your families
From the Doctor of Ministry Team, staff and professors, it has been our privilege to travel with you. Honored to know you, work with you, serve you, and humbled by the work you do. We are grateful to God for you and what you are doing
Eugene Peterson has said: I’ve loved being a pastor, almost every minute of it. It’s a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous—the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives. I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is.
We know this is true! It is the best life there is—but it is not easy. It is a joy—but it is also demanding…and sometimes it is just plain difficult.
You leave Fuller’s campus after this weekend and go back to your places of ministry, to its joys and to its challenges, but one last word for you before you are hooded. It is simply this: Never give up! It’s the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4, “Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this ministry we never give up.”
Back home you will preach and witness and proclaim good news; care and shepherd; lead and encourage new imaginations; offer counsel and hospitality; work to see the God’s mission expand; shine the light on injustice and work to set the world right in Jesus name.
You do this work in season and out of season—this is the calling on your life. The Lord has grabbed your life, and this is what you do. You serve faithfully, hoping for great fruitfulness. You are aware of the Lord’s presence and power on your life.
And so—never give up! In times of abundance and scarcity—never give up. When you have energy and when you are fatigued—never give up. When you enjoy the noise of crowds and when you feel very alone—never give up. When many find favor with others in what you do, and when you experience conflict—never give up. When you are hopeful and when you despair—never give up.
Though the work is not easy, it is the best life there is. Jesus Christ is the one who calls you. He is the one who strengthens you. He is the one who gives you joy! Never give up!
May the Lord grant to you
- The mind of a scholar—faithfully handling the Word
- The heart of a child before your Father and others
- The skin of a rhinoceros—you know why!
God bless you as we celebrate with you! And never give up.