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
This is quite a charge. Paul challenges Timothy to stay sober-minded, live with the challenges, keep those who don’t yet know as the priority, and not neglect the parts of ministry he doesn’t like.
Like I said … quite a charge.
Discharge ALL the duties of ministry, Paul says. All.
What a loaded three-letter word! It feels like that line at the end of a job description — the one that says, “other duties as assigned.” You don’t find out until you take the job that the “other duties as assigned” take about forty hours of your already 40-hour work week.
What Paul is trying to tell his first-century audience and also me is that evangelism is a package deal. It is preaching and acts of mercy. Word and works. To do the work of an evangelist, we have to discharge all the duties of ministry.
My experience after seventeen years of ministry and the start of two congregations is that the only thing standing between me and complete burn-out is not success, but the power of God.
It is the power of God that saves me from myself. And make no mistake about it: until we get the bigness of God, we won’t be qualified to discharge the “other duties as assigned.” All the duties of ministry. To cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim the Kingdom, heal the sick … because that’s what they are hungry for, these people who come limping into our faith communities.
Clearly, this is the work of ministry Jesus expected of his followers. The whole package, not just the parts we like.
So what is the secret to courageous ministry that doesn’t wear a person completely out?
Jesus tells us in the last chapter of Luke and he even uses Paul’s powerful three-letter word. There he is, standing with his friends after the resurrection and he says, (Luke 24:46-49 – NLT), “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
Here’s the secret, leaders. This is what separates the crazy from the courageous. It is the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to do the work of an evangelist until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from Heaven.
The Kingdom Church is starving — and the fields are white — for Spirit-filled followers who are willing to do all the work of an evangelist. That is what we ought to be praying for — spiritual leaders who are abundantly filled with the Holy Spirit.
Without that, we’re giving them a death sentence. With it, we’re asking them to lead us into the one gospel big enough to hold us in life or in death.