The first biography I read of a Christian leader detailed the life of Charles Spurgeon. At the time as a first-semester student in seminary, I knew little about the Prince of Preachers. I’ve benefitted much from his life, his sermons, and his writings since. The following comes from his book The Soul-Winner. These are his seven points marking the qualifications of a soul-winner in terms of our relationship with God, followed by quotes from Spurgeon.
- Holiness of character. You may preach very fine sermons, but if you are not yourselves holy, there will be no souls saved. The probability is that you will not come to the conclusion that your want of holiness is the reason for your non-success; you will blame the people, you will blame the age in which you live, you will blame anything except yourself; but there will be the root of the whole mischief. Do I not myself know men of considerable ability and industry, who go on year after year without any increase in their churches? The reason is, that they are not living before God as they ought to live. . . . The greatest force of the sermon lies in what has gone before the sermon.
- Spiritual life of a high degree. I know some such ministers; you cannot come into contact with them without feeling the power of the spiritual life which is in them. It is not merely while they are talking upon religious topics, but even in the commonplace things of the world, you are conscious that there is something about the men which tells you that they are all alive unto God. Such men will be used by God for the quickening of others.
- A Humble spirit. Humility is not having a mean opinion of yourself. If a man has a low opinion of himself; it is very possible that he is correct in his estimate. I have known some people, whose opinion of themselves, according to what they have said, was very low indeed. They thought so little of their own powers that they never ventured to try to do any good; they said they had no self-reliance. I have known some so wonderfully humble that they have always liked to pick an easy place for themselves; they were too humble to do anything that would bring any blame upon them: they called it humility, but I thought “sinful love of ease” would have been a better name for their conduct. True humility will lead you to think rightly about yourselves, to think the truth about yourselves. . . . In the matter of soul-winning, humility makes you feel that you are nothing and nobody, and that, if God gives you success in the work, you will be driven to ascribe to Him all the glory, for none of the credit of it could properly belong to you. If you do not have success, humility will lead you to blame your own folly and weakness, not God’s sovereignty.
- A living faith. You must also believe that the message you have to deliver is God’s Word. I had sooner that you believed half-a-dozen truths intensely than a hundred only feebly. . . . You must also believe in the power of that message to save people. You may have heard the story of one of our first students, who came to me, and said, “I have been preaching now for some months, and I do not think I have had a single conversion.” I said to him, “And do you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and save souls every time you open your mouth?” “No, sir,” he replied. “Well, then,” I said, “that is why you do not get souls saved. If you had believed, the Lord would have given the blessing.”
- Thorough earnestness. The Lord Jesus Christ wept over Jerusalem, and you will have to weep over sinners if they are to be saved through you. Dear brethren, do be earnest, put your whole soul into the work, or else give it up.
- Great simplicity of heart. By simplicity of heart, I mean, that a man evidently goes into the ministry for the glory of God and the winning of souls, and nothing else.
- Complete surrender of yourself to God. A harpist will love to play on one particular harp because he knows the instrument, and the instrument almost appears to know him. So, when God puts His hand upon the very strings of your being, and every power within you seems to respond to the movements of His hand, you are an instrument that He can use. It is not easy to keep in that condition, to be in such a sensitive state that you receive the impression that the Holy Spirit desires to convey, and are influenced by Him at once.
All the above taken from Spurgeon, Charles H.. The Soul-Winner : or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour