More than 80 years ago, several Christian fathers wrote on the topic, “Why I encouraged my son to be a minister.” Today, we dust off and share two of those responses.
Victor E. Hoven (1871–1965) was professor of biblical doctrine, Christian evidences, and hermeneutics at Northwest Christian College (now Bushnell University), Eugene, Ore. He wrote about his son, Ard Hoven (1906–1987). The younger Hoven served as minister with such churches as Chase Avenue (later Clovernook, and now LifeSpring) in Cincinnati; Broadway in Lexington, Ky.; and First Christian in Columbus, Ind. He also was a lesson writer for The Lookout and the radio minister of The Christians’ Hour from its beginning in 1943 until his death. He was serving with Kentucky Christian University when he died.
R. C. Foster (1888–1970) was a founder of Cincinnati Bible Seminary and taught there for decades. He wrote about his son, Lewis A. Foster (1921–2004). The younger Foster taught at Cincinnati Bible Seminary from 1950 to 1990, served as dean there from 1956 to 1974, served as minister of Western Hills Church of Christ, and was on the general editorial committee of the New International Version of the Bible.
– – –
To Have the Gospel Proclaimed Around the World
By Victor E. Hoven (father of Ard Hoven)
Oct. 3, 1942; p. 11
The fundamental reasons why I spoke of the gospel ministry to my son, Ard, were these:
1. Christ’s command to preach the gospel: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). For many years my purpose and endeavor have been to have the gospel proclaimed around the globe—by myself in the homeland and through others abroad. To that end my labors have been given and my missionary money has been distributed. With this ideal in view I have spoken to my son and other young people about giving themselves to the ministry of the Word. I believe we are under moral obligation to Christ in this matter.
2. Paul’s command to select preachers. He said to Timothy, and to all subsequent preachers, “The things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This calls for personally picked men of faith and ability. Believing this, I could not refrain from speaking to my boy about becoming a preacher. I believed he could qualify on the above points required, and his career thus far has proved the correctness of my faith.
3. My own desire for a successor in the gospel. I was anxious to have my son carry on after I would be gone. When he was about the age of ten, I began to talk to him privately about taking hold of the work I was trying to do, yet never urging it upon him, for I wanted it to be the desire of his own heart. One day, when he had reached eighteen, my happiness was made complete when he said: “Father, I have decided to be a preacher.”
Now the supreme joy of Mrs. Hoven and myself is that one of our boys is “holding forth the word of life.”
_ _ _
The New Testament
By R. C. Foster (father of Lewis Foster)
Oct. 3, 1942; p. 12
The most direct and complete answer to the question, “Why I Encouraged My Son to Be a Minister,” is to hand the questioner a copy of the New Testament. The answer is inherent in everything Jesus said and did and everything He urged others to say and do. The lifeblood and the beating heart of the New Testament is evangelism. When once we realize that men are actually lost in sin, that the divine message of salvation has been committed to us to deliver to mankind and that we can not cry out loudly enough, reach far enough or live long enough to warn and win those who are willing to hear, then we feel the desperate need to encourage our sons and the sons of everybody else we can influence to give themselves without reserve to the task. A person can not be a Christian without being a preacher. The possession or the lack of necessary gifts for public proclamation of the gospel and other attendant circumstances may alter the choice of method, but in the life of a true Christian labor in any field, such as medicine, law, science, agriculture, or what not, will be the implement by which he preaches the Word and wins men back to God. Certainly, one of the great thrills of a lifetime comes to a minister when his own son stands up in the pulpit to lift high the torch of divine truth to the next generation.
Typical of an age of unbelief like ours, various American journals have carried articles by modernistic preachers on the topic: “Why I Did Not Encourage My Son to Be a Minister.” Herein is a confession of weakness of their system and a token of yictory for the Word of God in the desperate conflict which surrounds us. The pagans of the pulpit who do not believe anything strongly enough to stake their lives upon it naturally do not wish to see their sons suffer for it. Unbelief continually becomes sterile. But Christian faith begets after its own kind. Since the Cincinnati Bible Seminary was first founded its humble halls have been thronged with the sons and daughters of Christian ministers. It is not so much a matter of encouraging our sons to be ministers as of their catching on fire from contact with a flaming faith.