Before you sign up as a volunteer at your local church, please consider these sobering thoughts from 2 Timothy 2.
The letter of 2 Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a younger gospel worker. Paul was in a dungeon in Rome because of his faith in Jesus and awaiting execution. Paul’s final instruction to Timothy was to encourage Timothy to devote his life to the communication of the glorious gospel about Jesus, despite any hardship, suffering or persecution.
Here are 6 reasons, according the Apostle Paul, not to serve in ministry in 2018:
1. It will require a willingness to endure hardship
v3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Soldiers on active service do not expect a safe or easy time. They take hardship and difficulty as what they signed up for.
2. It will require great faithfulness
v5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
Every sport has its rules. If you don’t keep to the rules, you won’t be crowned.
3. It will require hard work
v6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
Farmers get up early and work extremely hard. They sow, plough and toil. In the midst of it all, they pray to God for rain.
4. It will require a devotion to teaching the Bible properly
v14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
There are two kinds of pastors and Bible teachers: those approved by God and unapproved by God.
To be approved is to pass the test, to correctly handle the word of truth.
Literally, they “plough a straight line with the Bible”.
They don’t go above the line by adding to Scripture their own opinions.
They don’t go below the line by failing to teach all of God’s truth, however untrendy.
They keep to the line, they plough straight, they faithfully teach the Bible.
The various ministries at your church should involve either teaching God’s Word, or enabling others to teach God’s Word, or demonstrating obedience to God’s Word.
5. It will require righteousness of conduct
v20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
If you would be used by God, set apart and useful to the Master (God), there is only one condition: you must cleanse yourself.
Cleanse yourself from what? From iniquity (v19) and false living (v22).
If you’re not willing to believe the right thing and live the right way, ministry is not for you.
7. It will require much gentleness
v24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
As we do ministry with gentleness and patience, we pray that people will put their trust in Jesus and escape Satan’s deadly trap.
God’s Word is not bound
Gospel ministry is tough and will require a lot of you. Often you will feel exhausted, empty, discouraged, unmotivated and inadequate.
In those times we are to remember what v8-9 tells us:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Remember Jesus, who is Lord and God (risen from the dead) and who is the culmination of all God’s plans for the cosmos (offspring of David). Remember too that God’s Word in never bound.
Martin Luther was greatly used by God 500 years ago to reignite the church with Gospel truth and oppose the abuses of the Roman Catholic church. In a sermon, Luther stated:
Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word…I did nothing; the Word of God did everything.
God’s word is never bound
You may feel exhausted, weak and inadequate. God’s word is never exhausted, weak or inadequate.
Notice that in the first three examples (soldier/ athlete/ farmer) there is an expectation of future reward.
The good soldier expects victory.
The rule-keeping athlete runs to win the crown.
The hard-working farmer shares in the harvest.
There will be a great reward for those who serve God faithfully
It was true for Jesus, Paul and Timothy. It will be true for you – but only if you serve faithfully.
Please have a good think and pray before you sign up for ministry.