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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

A Circumspect Life

An important tool of ministry.

Patrick (9)

                                  And it is true,
though I lack any skill, I’ve tried to do
all that I could to guard myself in all
my dealings, so that none could ever call
me greedy. Even with the brethren and
the virgins of the Lord I took a stand
that I would not receive the gifts that they
would give to me. At times they’d even lay
them on the altar; I returned them all,  
no matter if the gifts were great or small.
And so, not understanding why I did
this, they became offended. But I bid
you understand, I hoped eternity
to gain, and so I labored hard to be
a man of full integrity in all
my dealings, being careful not to fall
into temptation, lest the pagans should
some pretext have to denigrate my good
episcopate and to disparage me.

 - Patrick, Confession

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

  - Ephesians 5.15-17

Patrick understood that there is more to being a minister of the Word than just preaching and teaching.

A minister has three primary tools for doing his work. He must master them all and use them consistently in every facet of his ministry. The first of these tools is prayer. Does it surprise us that God drew Patrick into a lifestyle of prayer, even before He called him as a minister of the Word? We recall how prayer became Patrick’s safe place, his refuge during his time of enslavement. He testified that prayer became so important to him that he would pray a hundred times a day and nearly as many at night.

Prayer opened Patrick’s soul to visions, which God used in lieu of His Word—there being no Scripture available—to communicate His will to Patrick. Prayer continued to be the bedrock discipline of Patrick’s ministry throughout the course of it.

Along with prayer is the Word of God. Once he arrived back in Ireland, Patrick devoted himself to knowing, believing, obeying, and teaching the Scriptures. The two brief documents attributed to his hand are carefully pinned to Scripture by more than 125 quotes, references, and allusions from both the Old and New Testaments. Patrick understood that only the Word of God, in the controlling hands of the Holy Spirit, has the power of life (Jn. 6.63), and he determined to make the Word the core and content of all His ministry.

The third tool is the pastor’s personal example. As Paul demonstrated and taught, a pastor must be above reproach in all aspects of the Christian life. Paul could encourage his readers to imitate him because he knew he was imitating Jesus. And Patrick understood the importance of having an unassailable reputation.

He mentions his practice of not receiving gifts from those he served. He means personal gifts. Of course, people contributed to his ministry, for his support and the support of those who worked and traveled with him. But Patrick steadfastly refused to accept personal gifts because he knew this would cast a cloud of doubt and suspicion over his work. Guarding himself against even the appearance of greed also characterized all his dealings. He was continuously on guard against temptation and the wiles of the devil, and he kept himself above reproach in all aspects of his life.

It is telling that, when ecclesiastical powers in Britain sought to remove Patrick from the field by a specious moral claim, they had to go way back to before he was even taken captive to find something on which to pin their charges. Patrick may not have driven the snakes out of Ireland (as is often claimed), but he certainly kept the old serpent out of his soul, out of his moral life, and out of his ministry.

We need moral shepherds if we are to have moral sheep; and we need moral flocks if we are ever to see the reality of God’s Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom erupted all about Patrick and those who followed in his steps for nearly four centuries. And this is because, like Patrick, the leaders of the Celtic Revival understood the power of righteousness for making all things new.

We need to make this discovery all over again in our day.

For Reflection
1. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, Paul wrote (Rom. 14.17, 18). What is righteousness? How can we learn it?

2. What have you found to be the best ways to keep growing in righteousness?

Psalm 119.17-22 (Open My Eyes: Open My Eyes, That I May See)
Open my eyes, LORD, let me see wonderful truths to transform me.
I am a stranger here in the earth; hide not from me Your glorious worth.
Deal with Your servant graciously that I may live obediently.
Open my eyes, LORD, let me see glory divine!

My soul with longing breaks for You; all of Your judgments I would do.
For You rebuke the proud and the cursed, who from Your Law have strayed, and worse.
Take from me all contempt, O LORD, for I have kept Your holy Word.
Lift all reproach from me, O LORD—my soul renew!

Teach me to guard my way, O Lord, so that in all things I will…

T. M. Moore

Patrick’s Legacy
You can read more about the impact of Patrick’s ministry in our book, The Legacy of Patrick. Here you’ll learn how Patrick’s work has affected generations of Christians down to our own day. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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