Primary Influences Upon John Wesley’s Life

John Wesley’s greatest influence was undoubtedly his mother. From the training and education she provided him as a young boy, to the advice that she provided him as a grown man, John Wesley’s foremost guide was his mother. Her strict yet caring hand guided him into maturity and into the ministry. It was his mother who made him feel he was a ‘brand plucked from the fire,’ purposed to do great things. From his mother, Wesley found purpose and meaning, but no spiritual solace.

The mystics, such as Law and a’ Kempis, guided Wesley through the next phase of his life. Although his mother still brought direction at times of difficulty, Wesley was away from home and influenced by the teachings of these men. In the writings of Law and a’ Kempis, Wesley hoped to find peace from his burning fear of death. The writings of the mystics formed in Wesley the hope of seeking after God and finding inner assurance and peace.

Wesley would be tormented for many years with his fears until he was brought into contact with the Moravians. Through men like Bohler, Wesley was confronted with the truth of God’s saving grace through faith. The influence of the Moravian’s led to Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate. Here, Wesley gained the assurance and peace he had so longed for his entire life.  These influences help mold Wesley’s theology changed the face of religion around the world.

Impact Upon My Life and Ministry

John Wesley stands as a symbol of faith and dedication to God in the midst of great turmoil. As Wesley and the Methodists began their preaching across England, they were met with great persecution. It is John Wesley, and men and women of like character, who inspire me to pursue God no matter the cost. John Wesley was a man who devoted his life to serving God. Examining his life challenges me to devote more time and effort to the work God has placed before me. Ministry is not a job, it is a choice to live my life in service to God and His people. Wesley knew this and practiced it without fear or hesitation. To have the courage and the dedication to serve God with all his heart and soul and strength is one challenge Wesley lays before the feet of all Christians.

Lessons for Today’s Church

Wesley was a revolutionary who brought correction to God’s people at a time of corruption. I fear that the Church today has drifted away from service that pleases God to service that pleases people and the culture. John Wesley never sought to divide the Church but to Sanctify her, yet many misguided leaders have ripped the Church apart in pursuit of approval from the dominant culture. Wesley sought unity, but never at the price of moral compromise. He is a good example of how we must care for the lost by reaching out without compromising the message. Sadly, however, too many Churches are consumed with attendance and too many leaders are consumed with popularity. The Church could learn much from John Wesley’s life, but will She?

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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