For the last several days I have been praying and thinking about what to say to a Pastors’ meeting where I have been invited to preach. My initial thought was to give a good, solid challenge. I was considering either a call to come back to our first love, Jesus, or a look at the calling of being a shepherd. Both are great challenges, but I am considering going a different path.
Just recently I accidentally overheard a portion of a conversation where a pastor was asking for help with a challenge he is facing in the church where he serves. It sounded like so many stories I have heard before. The pastor is trying to honor God, but somebody in the church thinks they know better and has thrown down the challenge, “my way or the highway.” The pastor is discouraged and not sure where to go from here. Many times these scenarios end in the pastor leaving the church or leaving the ministry all together.
So the new direction that I am looking at is to encourage the men who will be there. Some of them are trying to be faithful to God, His word, and His people, but have been beat up on by the churches and people they serve. I want to challenge those men to hold on, continue to persevere, and to run the race that God has called them to in that church and in their ministry. That is very similar to the encouragement that Paul wrote to Timothy in the 4th chapter of 2 Timothy.
As Paul considers his potential death and the passing of the baton to Timothy he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (verse 7).” Paul has done his job and has held on to his calling in spite of all kinds of challenges and opposition, and I believe his desire for Timothy was that as he took Paul’s place in the race that he would run hard and stay faithful in spite of the challenges that he was facing and the ones that would come farther down the road.
So, as I have looked over this passage today here are the reasons that Paul gave Timothy for staying in the race. I believe that they are just as valid for us today, and my prayer is that as I open God’s word with these pastors in a couple of weeks that it will encourage them to also hang in the race until like Paul they can say they have finished it and kept the faith.
God will be our Judge (verse 1) – One day each one of us will stand before God and give an answer for our lives and ministries. We need to serve Him with our very best. Don’t quit or move on unless it is very clear that it is His will.
The Word needs to be preached (verse 2) – The answer that the world is looking for is found in Christ as He is revealed in God’s word. If we don’t preach it how will they hear? Stay faithful to God’s word. We can’t afford to compromise on it or the priority of it being preached with passion.
A time is coming when people won’t listen to sound doctrine (verse 3) – This is already on us in a big way. People tend to not want to hear truth, especially if it convicts of sin and challenges us to change. We are all resistant to that, but it will get worse. That means time is not our friend. We need to hold fast to God’s word and preach and teach it at every opportunity.
There are many teachers who are not faithful to God’s word (verse 3) – Let’s face it. There are too many preachers and teachers out there who are willing to compromise in order to draw a crowd. With that being the case we can’t afford to allow God preachers and teachers to leave the ministry because of hurt, discouragement, or moral failure. Stay the course even when its hard. Our competition certainly will.
People still need to hear the Gospel (verse 5) – It’s the Gospel that changes hearts and lives. There are millions who need you to stay in the race so that they can have the opportunity to hear this all-important message. God called you and gave you the privilege of being a part of that process. Don’t quit now.
Here are some bonus thoughts.
How to hang in there:
Keep your head
Keep the faith