A while back, I came across Isaac Watts “Questions for Young Ministers Frequently to Put to Themselves, Chiefly borrowed from the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.” I wanted to update the language a bit and make it a more useful document for me (making Scripture quotes from the ESV), so I’ve released it on my blog section by section and finished yesterday. Here’s all the sections in one post (as well as a PDF at the end for you to utilize).
Questions Proper for Young Ministers To Ask Themselves, (mainly from Pastoral Epistles). By Isaac Watts
Section 1. Of Faithfulness in the Ministry
1) Do I sincerely give myself “to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4) and do I design to make it the chief business of my life to serve Christ in His Gospel, in order to the salvation of men?
2) Do I resolve, through the aids of divine grace, “to be faithful to Him who appointed me to His service,” and “to see that I fulfill the ministry I have received in the Lord?” (1 Timothy 1:12; Colossians 4:17).
3) Do I honestly and faithfully endeavor by study and prayer to know “the truth as it is in Jesus?” (Ephesians 4:21) and do I seek my instructions chiefly from the “sacred writings, which are able to make me wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus, that I may be complete, equipped for every good work?” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
4) Do “I follow the pattern of the sound words,” as far as I have learned them of Christ and his apostles? (2 Timothy 1:13). That I “may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). and do I determine to “continue in what I’ve learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom I learned it?” (2 Timothy 3:14).
5) Do I resolve to give the people the true meaning of Christ in His Word, so far as I can understand it, and “refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s Word, but by the open statement of the truth commend myself to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God?” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
6) Am I watchful to “avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’?” (1 Timothy 6:20). and do I take care to “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies, knowing that they breed quarrels, and not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers?” (2 Timothy 2:14, 23).
7) Do I do my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth; (2 Timothy 2:15). giving to every one, viz. to saints and sinners, their proper portion?
8) Do I make it my business to “testify both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ;” and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved;” making this gospel of Christ the subject of my ministry? (Acts 20:21). (Acts 4:12).
9) Do I constantly affirm that “those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord?” (Titus 3:8). (Hebrews 12:14).
10) Do I teach those that hear me to “observe all that Christ has commanded us or shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God? (Matthew 28:20). (Acts 20:27).
11) Do I preach to the people, “not myself, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with myself as their servant for Jesus’ sake?” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
12) Do I, in my study and my preaching, “keep a close watch on my myself and on the teaching, persisting in these things, for by so doing I will save both myself and my hearers?” (1 Timothy 4:16).
13) Do I “keep watch over souls as one who will have to give an account, doing this with joy and not with groaning for the advantage of those I serve?” (Hebrews 13:17).
Section 2. Of Diligence in the Ministry
1) Do I “give attendance to reading,” meditation and study? Do I read a due portion of Scripture daily, especially in the New Testament, and that in the Greek original, that I may be better acquainted with the meaning of the Word of God? (1 Timothy 4:13).
2) Do I apply myself to these things, and give myself wholly to them, that my progress may appear to all? (1 Timothy 4:15).
3) Do I live, constantly, as under the eye of the great Shepherd, who is my master and my final judge; and so spend my hours as to be able to give up a good account of them at last to him?
4) Do I not “neglect to fan into flame the gifts I have, which God has given me, for the edification of the church?” (1 Timothy 4:14) and (2 Timothy 1:6).
5) Do I seek, as far as possible, to know the strengths and weaknesses of my speaking, that I “may speak a word in season?” (Isaiah 50:4).
6) Is it my chief design, in choosing my subject, and composing my sermon, to edify the souls of men?
7) Am I determined to take all proper opportunities to preach the word in season and out of season, that is, in the coffee shop or the home, or the workplace, as well as in the pulpit; and seek opportunities to speak a word for Christ, and help forward the salvation of souls? (2 Timothy 4:2).
8) Do I labor to show my love to our Lord Jesus, by “feeding the sheep and tending to the lambs of His flock?” (John 21:16-17).
9) Am I diligently laboring for the success of my ministry? and do I take all possible strategies to inquire what effects my ministry has had on the souls of those who hear me?
10) Where I find or hope the work of grace is begun on the soul, am I zealous and diligent to promote it?
Section 3. Of Constant Prayer and Dependence
1) Do I “devote myself to prayer and to the ministry of the Word?” (Acts 6:4).
2) Do I make it a habit to pray daily in secret, that I may engage in holy conversation with God, and also, that I may obtain the promised reward in prayer? (Matthew 6:6).
3) Do I make it my practice to offer “prayers, supplications, and intercessions for all men,” particularly for our rulers, and for my fellow laborers in Gospel ministry, and for Christ’s church, especially for those to whom I preach? (1 Timothy 2:1, Romans 1:9-10, Philippians 1:4).
4) Do I seek by prayer, for divine direction and assistance in my studies as well as in all my preparations for the public? and do I plead for the success of my ministry with God, in whom all these blessings abound? (Ephesians 3:14-19, Philippians 1:8-9).
5) Do I ever keep upon my spirit a deep sense of my own insufficiency for these things, that I may ever depend and wait on the power of Christ for aid and success? (2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Timothy 2:1).
Section 4. Of Self-Denial, Humility, Mortification, and Patience
1) Do I seek to serve all people for their good and not make it my chief business to please myself? (Romans 16:2). But to become a servant to all, that I may win them, laboring for their salvation, so far as it is consistent with being true and faithful to Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:23), and (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22).
2) Do I behave myself before people, “as proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, with myself as their servant for Jesus’ sake?” and do I treat them not as lording over their faith, but as a worker for their joy?” (2 Corinthians 4:5, 2 Corinthians 1:24).
3) Am I “kind to all people, patiently enduring evil, correcting my opponents with gentleness?” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
4) Do I “commend myself as a servant of God in every way with great endurance,” by having control of my own spirit? (2 Corinthians 6:4).
5) Do I, as a man of God, whose business is heavenly, flee from the love of money and all the evils that go with it; not seeking my own things so much as the things of Christ? (1 Timothy 6:10-11). But if I have food and clothing, will I be content with these things? (1 Timothy 6:8).
6) Am I willing “to share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus?” (2 Timothy 2:3). and am I learning to endure whatever God calls me to, “for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory?” (2 Timothy 2:3, 10).
7) Am I more and more fortified against shame and suffering for the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ? (2 Timothy 1:8-12).
8) Am I willing “to most gladly spend and be spent for the souls of people, or even to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of their faith? and do I not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus?” (Philippians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 12:15, Acts 20:24).
Section 5. Of Conversation
1) Is it my constant aim to be “holding onto faith and a good conscience, lest I reject this and, like some, make shipwreck of my faith.” (1 Timothy 1:19).
2) Do I so walk as to set “the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity?” (1 Timothy 4:12); and to “show myself in all respects to be a model of good works?” (Titus 2:7).
3) Do I seek to walk uprightly among people, and doing nothing by partiality? (1 Timothy 5:21).
4) Is my speech free of corrupting talk but only good for building up, appropriate for each occasion that it may give grace to those who hear? (Ephesians 4:29).
5) Do I “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart?” (2 Timothy 2:22).
6) Do I avoid, as much as possible, the various temptations to which I may be exposed, and watch against the times, and places, and company which are dangerous?
7) Do I practice the Christian duty of love and charity, to those who differ from me in opinion, and even “bless and pray for them that may persecute me?” (Romans 12:14, Romans 14:1).
8) Do I behave myself above reproach as God’s steward, not being arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent or greedy for gain, being hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined? (Titus 1:7-8).
9) Do I daily labor “put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found in my ministry?” (2 Corinthians 6:3)
10) Do I watch over myself in all times, and places, and conversations, so as to do and to bear what is required of me, to fulfill my ministry, and to adorn the doctrine of God my Savior? (2 Timothy 4:5, Titus 2:10).