2 Timothy 4:5 – “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Dear brothers, It’s Monday.
I know what today often feels like. Yesterday, if you are a faithful ministry of Jesus, you opened up God’s word and declare it with authority and dependence upon God. Some things came out right. Others came out either wrong or unclear. Some in the audience encouraged and affirmed you with smiles, nods, and vocal “amens.” Others looked as if you could not finish the sermon fast enough. Today can be a particularly difficult day for you as you prepare for another week. Feelings of despair and inadequacy often make Monday a most dreadful day. So what will you do? I would suggest you resolve to incorporate Paul’s four admonitions to Timothy into your routine this week.
First, be sober-minded. Do not get drunk on the dreams of a “successful” ministry. Success is not measured in denominational awards, church attendance, baptism numbers, or offering collections. Your success as a minister of Christ is found in your faithfulness to sow the seed of the gospel. The seed has an inherent power within itself. Your job is to cast that seed and pray for the Holy Spirit to bring forth fruit. Yesterday was a successful day of ministry if the seed of the gospel was sown. Do not forget that reality.
Second, endure suffering. Do not bemoan your ministry. Do not gripe about the members of your church. Do not complain about the bitter attitudes that you regularly encounter. Rather, endure. A ministry that is not marked by some degree of suffering is no ministry at all. Brothers, we follow a crucified Lord, not a Bentley driving, jet plane owning, money hungry hireling. When Jesus called you into the ministry, you knew what you were getting into or at least should have known. Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This is true for all who follow Jesus, but it is especially true for his ministers. Our calling is one of cruciformity, not luxury, ease, and earthly comforts. Christ’s triumph over the world grants us the hope and ability to endure suffering, not be exempt from it.
Third, do the work of an evangelist. While you have the responsibility of shepherding the flock that God has entrusted to you, you also bear the responsibility of participating in the work of bringing other sheep into the fold. This, of course, assumes that you know and love the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot be an evangelist if you do not love and cherish the gospel of God’s grace. Therefore, make it a point each week to meditate on the truth of the gospel and then share it with someone else in some form or another. Such activity should most likely be planned until it becomes a habit. Lead your people in this work through your own example and testimony.
Finally, fulfill your ministry. A good bit could be said about this point, but I intend to only make one point here. You are called and will be held responsible for fulfilling your ministry, not the ministry of another. Celebrate with your fellow ministers. Encourage your fellow ministers. Pray for your fellow ministers. Write letters to your fellow ministers. But do not envy them or their ministries. God has not called you to pastor the congregation of your dreams, but instead the congregation before you now. In this life, there will never be such thing as a perfect church or pastor. We will always be chasing the ideal. In a broken and fallen world, even the most idyllic ministry can become a nightmare in the blink of an eye. Do not become so focused upon what you want your congregation to become that you fail to fulfill your ministry to the congregation that they are now. Resolve to love them and commit to them as God in Christ has loved you and committed himself to you.
Brothers, it’s Monday. Yet Christ is still on His throne and the seed of His Word is doing its work. Take heart! Be encouraged! Your labor is not in vain!