Preach the Gospel, Die, and be Forgotten

Preach the Gospel, Die, and be Forgotten

“Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” I needed to hear this today. Don’t we all, especially those of us in ministry? It takes me back to square one, to the moment I knew God spoke to my heart and called me to teach and preach His Word. I was twenty-five years old, married, and with two preschoolers at home. Nevertheless, I began my studies and Berean coursework for credentials.

I remember sharing my heart and intentions with my grandmother. Shortly thereafter, I received a card in the mail from her that carried this declaration, “Stay small in your own eyes.” The Lord has flashed that mini-sermon before the eyes of my heart on many an occasion the last forty years. I am reminded once again of this truth: If my ambition and motivation is anything short of exalting the name of Jesus Christ, I’ve got it all wrong.

“Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten” is a quote attributed to Nikolaus Ludwig, count von Zinzendorf. Born into Austrian nobility in Germany in 1700, Zinzendorf was expected to follow his late father’s footsteps into government. Instead, he was more interested in theology and religious work. While visiting Copenhagen in 1731, he met a converted slave from the West Indies. He was looking for someone to go back to his homeland to preach the gospel to black slaves. Zinzendorf found two volunteers from the Moravian community living on his estate, thus becoming the first Moravian missionaries—and the first Protestant missionaries of the modern era. Within two decades, Zinzendorf sent missionaries around the globe including to the North American Indians.

Zinzendorf emphasized the growth of the spiritual relationship between the believer and the Savior. He believed Christians should live in love and harmony, and that every Christian needed to live in a faith community. “There can be no Christianity without community,” he said.

“I have but one passion—it is He; it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.” – Count Zinzendorf

My life must be about promoting the name of Jesus Christ and His glory. I hope someone knows Jesus and/or knows Him better because I lived. “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Seeds well planted by the child of God will continue to produce life in Christ long after we have relocated to heaven. Let my name be lost forever, but His live on for generations without end.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).