Timothy is described in the book of Acts as a young man who traveled with Paul through many of his journeys. The two letters that bear his name indicate that at some point, Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to lead the church there and to combat those teaching false doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3-7). Timothy appears to have been somewhat timid (2 Tim. 1:7), so this was likely a challenging task for him.
As Paul comes to the end of his second letter to Timothy, he once again charges him to be faithful to the ministry he has been given, even in the face of opposition from ungodly teachers. And his final words are appropriate, not just to Timothy, but to all believers.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.2 Timothy 4:5 NIV
This short verse contains four charges to Timothy.
- He needed to keep his head in all situations. To think clearly, whatever might be coming his way.
- Endure hardship. Pastoring a large church challenged by false doctrine would not be an easy road.
- Do the work of an evangelist. Never grow weary of sharing the good news about Christ.
- And discharge all the duties of your ministry.
A Challenge to Minister
It is this last instruction that resonates the most with me. I am not a Timothy, leading a large church and dealing with all of the problems associated with that. But the Lord has given to me, as to all believers, a place of service within his kingdom.
It is unfortunate that we have come to understand ministry as the domain of a select subset of believers we identify as ministers. People who have been called by God to serve as pastors/preachers/priests and other similar leadership roles. By no means do I want to minimize what they do or God’s calling in their lives. They serve an important role within the church. But they are not the only ministers.
To minister is to serve. Something all believers are called to do. We minister in different ways, depending on what God has called us to do. Regardless of what side of the unfortunate divide between clergy/laity you find yourself on, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are a minister with a ministry to perform.
So Paul’s instruction to Timothy, to me, and to all believers, is to be faithful to the Lord in the service he has given you. Your area of service is likely not the same as mine. But the instruction is the same regardless. Discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Whatever ministry the Lord has given us, we need to carry it out fully, to the best of the ability he has given to us, using the strength he provides. He will not give us something to do without also enabling us to do it. So no excuses. Just do it.