Article: People In The Preacher’s Life

HAC411932 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 

The second epistle to Timothy was Paul’s final letter, written shortly before his martyrdom and promotion to glory. Along with 1 Timothy and Titus, it provides us with a divine “Pastor’s Manual” for ministry. At the end of the Epistle, we find some personal statements regarding some of the people in the life of Paul, at the end of his ministry.

The ministry is people – the good, the bad and the ugly. Things happen in the ministry that are both wonderful and woeful. People will amaze you by their love for God, each other, and for souls – and people will amaze you by the sheer insanity of their behavior. Some who start well will end badly, and some who start badly will end well. Some will break your heart and others will be used by God to put it back together again. Some will plunge you into a pit of despair – and others will raise you to the stars.

Notice some people that Paul mentioned at the end of his last epistle, and see if you can glean some truth that will help you in your ministry:

1. THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE ON THEIR WAY IN.

2 Timothy 4:9-11 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me… (11) Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Paul had a great desire to see Timothy again; this younger preacher was a great encouragement to the heart of the aged apostle. Even Mark had grown and matured from the young man whose actions had once caused Paul to break off from his friend and partner, Barnabas.

If the preacher will remain faithful and stay in his place, I believe that God will send people in to help. It may be someone you know, like Timothy; it may be someone who was once immature and not a help, but now is; it may be someone that you do not yet know – but I believe that if you are faithful, God will send people to help you in the work. In fact, they may already be on their way.

2. THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY GONE OUT.

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Demas went to the WORLD. Crescens, Titus, Tychicus and others went to the WORK. Trophimus was WAYLAID by sickness and could no longer continue with Paul (vs. 20).

It is very painful when former fellow-laborers fall out of love with Jesus and embrace the world or sin. It is bittersweet when God calls men into other areas of ministry. You are glad to see them used of God in other areas of His work, but you miss their companionship. It is hard when some fellow laborers become sick or infirm, and can no longer do what they once did. One thing is certain – people will be going out, one way or another.

3. THERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE STILL THERE.

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me.

It may be that there is “only Luke” – but thank God for Luke! Thank God for those who are still willing to work side by side with us in the harvest, through thick and thin, “in season and out of season.”

4. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WILL FIGHT AGAINST YOU.

2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: (15) Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

Some fight the preacher from outside the church, and others from inside. Some people are chronic troublemakers. Alexander withstood Paul’s ministry, and Paul warned Timothy that he should also beware of this man’s character and work.  That one who split the last church before coming to you is not likely to change his nature just because he changed his address. Every preacher has someone who has done him “much evil.” We have to turn that over to the Lord – and beware of those who are trouble spots in the church.

5. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WILL FORSAKE YOU IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.

2 Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

When Alexander attacked Paul, all of his followers forsook him. Not one man present stood with him. No one defended him. One of the most disillusioning things in the ministry for young preachers (and their wives) is to see how fickle and disloyal people can be during times of trouble. There will be times when no one stands with you. You will be left alone, “hung out to dry.” At this point, many preachers and their wives become discouraged and either look for a new place to minister or leave the ministry altogether. Yet Paul CONTINUED TO STAND and even prayed for God to have mercy on his fickle followers. If you have to stand alone – by all means, stand alone.

6. THERE IS ONE WHO WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU IN TROUBLE.

2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

If God calls you into a battle, you can be sure that He will not leave you alone in the battle. When human help failed, divine aid was delivered right on time. When men ran from the roar of the lion, and left Paul in the jaws of the beast, the Lord stepped in and delivered him “out of the mouth of the lion.”

7. THERE ARE THOSE WHO STILL NEED YOUR MINISTRY.

2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Alexander does not get to decide if your ministry should continue or not. Demas’ rejection does not undo God’s calling in your life. People say all sorts of things when they leave angry at a preacher or a church. I have watched some laugh as churches have gone through hard times, and prophesy of the pastor’s imminent demise. I have also seen the same churches grow and become even better than before, while these false prophets who prophesied their doom have eventually fallen into the pit that they dug for the preacher (Prov. 26:27). You don’t need Alexander’s accreditation or Demas’ approval. Who called you, anyway?

The leaving of a coworker for another part of the Lord’s vineyard does not mean that God is done with your ministry. God has a work for YOU to do. And if you will stay faithful and clean, God will use you to do that work.

Our job is to remain faithful and stick to the work God has called us to do:

2 Timothy 4:2,5 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine… (5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Run until your course is FINISHED. Fight until the battle is OVER. Keep the faith until your dying breath. Keep preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep preaching the word, whether it is “in season” or “out of season.” Continue to carry out the Great Commission. Continue to stand for and teach doctrine. Endure afflictions. Instead of starting out well in the ministry and then changing, faltering, or failing half way in or near the end, “make full proof of thy ministry.”

Thank you for reading. God bless.

About James Rasbeary

I am the pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas. Check out my blog at www.broraz.com.
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One Response to Article: People In The Preacher’s Life

  1. Pat Rasbeary says:

    Excellent and so true….

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