The Work of a Preacher – Part 1
2 Timothy 4:1-5 – “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
The words given to Paul by the Holy Spirit and shared as a pattern of work for the evangelist Timothy are a beacon for minsters of God today. Quite often, ministers are expected to be men who stand behind the traditions and behaviors the congregation has engaged in for decades. Many a minister has caught fire for declaring the actions of a congregation apathetic, negligent, unfaithful, or sinful. In the eyes of many congregations these men stand simply as paid employees, without benefits, to be dismissed when they upset the apple cart. Yet, the text above declare ministers are something more.
To begin this series of articles, let us first establish what exactly a minister, evangelist, preacher, exactly is. A minister of Christ is someone who has given his life to proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. He shares many similarities with other Christians, but above all differences, there stands a very prominent one. While all Christians are to be enrolled as scholars sharing the gospel with all creation (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15), the preacher dedicates his energies first and foremost to this task. This is why Paul establishes that one should be able to make his living doing so (I Corinthians 9:14).
Throughout this world, there are men who are earnestly studying and proclaiming the gospel. Some travel from country to country sharing the gospel. Others, share the fruit of their labors with only one congregation. Adding to this number are preachers who are not being supported by a congregation, but still having their focus on the gospel – teaching classes, preaching sermons, holding meetings, conducting Bible studies. These men tent make (secular work to provide for their families). Everyone of these men, still have the same obligations before God to fulfill their ministry. If they are visiting your congregation or if they are sitting in your pews as the non-located preaching member of the congregation, they are still accountable to their charge. If they see sin, they are called upon to correct it. At times with gentleness and at times with open rebuke (2 Timothy 2:24-26, 2 Timothy 4:1-5).
It is not uncommon for evangelists to recall the lives of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the apostles. They do this as they converse with one another, as they talk with their spouses, or when they commune with God in prayer. They draw upon these Biblical examples to draw hope and courage to keep proclaiming the gospel of God. These Biblical mouthpieces of God were often shunned, criticized, ridiculed, brow beaten, condemned, and even physically threatened or harmed. Preachers in their charge are not unfamiliar with hostile Christians or a cruel, evil world (John 15:18). It seems people declaring to be the faithful of God, those proclaiming to be atheists, and everyone in between, desire most of all to do their own will and not God’s. The evangelist stands in the middle as a messenger of truth, though thoughts of giving up and refusing patience are always at the ready. Still, they continue on, dealing with triumphs and frustrations. Why??? Because a Savior once did so for them and they love mankind such that they do not want to see souls continue in sin separating themselves from God.
It is a joy to every minister’s heart to see the faithful of God supporting, loving, comforting, and repenting together when they fall short of Christ’s perfection. It is the balm to the preacher’s wounds when the lost of the world discover their heavenly Father has a plan for them and they accept it. It is a blessed incentive to the evangelist when Christians embrace growth and change transforming themselves further into a holy vessel. Constantly embossed in the minds of those who proclaim the gospel is the vision of Paul’s words in I Thessalonians 2:19: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”
The minister, as all men, has the Word of God as his judge (John 12:48). The blessed opportunity to lovingly serve (John 13:15) and the warning of a more harsh judgment (James 3:1), presses upon a preacher’s mind continually. This series of lessons aims to aid us in understanding the minister a little bit better and perhaps it will aid us in not making his efforts burdensome.
This next article in this series will focus upon “Preaching the Word”.