As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:5, ESV
Have you ever been to a restaurant and had poor service? I can think of a few instances that I became quite annoyed. Let me recount briefly of one in particular that comes to mind. My wife and I were taking an out-of-town friend of ours to dinner following a service one night. We had just had a great time at church, but oh how quickly we were jolted back into our flesh (funny how that happens). When we entered the restaurant we asked the hostess if we were okay on time before they were to close. We realized it was getting late. The hostess said there was no problem and sat us. After waiting for what seemed like forever, the waiter finally made his way to our table and began to bad mouth the hostess for seating us so close to closing time. He then proceeded to tell us we had to place our orders right then in order to get our meal. He then started cutting us off mid sentence while we were explaining our order. The night just took a quick nose dive. I even tried talking to the manager about how horrible of service we received that night. He wouldn’t hear it. He wasn’t even apologetic. I vowed to never eat at that restaurant again. Not surprising, but that restaurant is not in business any more.
What separates the faint of heart from the conquering leaders? It’s not great skill or even great achievements. It all comes down to faithfulness. Had the waiter in this example just been faithful to fulfill the duties of his job, we would have been happy customers. Had the manager been faithful to his leaders, the restaurant more than likely would still be open. Is skill and sophistication important? Absolutely! But faithfulness will lead to advancement in skill and knowledge.
People never just “arrive” at success in ministry. The amazing altar calls that our church experiences monthly at Beyond The Grave don’t “just happen.” We can all agree there is a supernatural conviction and response that happens at every altar call. But in order for 4-500 people to be born again, there must be 4-500 people present at the performance. That requires faithfulness on the part of the cast, the crew, the altar workers, the prop team, the promotion team, and so on. Everyone being committed to fulfill their ministry results in the opportunity for lives to be changed.
We must be sober-minded, endure affliction, do the work of the evangelist–all with the end in mind. We know that our vigilance in faithfulness results in opportunity for God to use us for His glory. Only yielded vessels, or vessels committed and open to Him through faithfulness, are able to be used greatly for His kingdom.
What has God called you to do? Maybe it’s as simple as ministering to your neighbor or coworker. Maybe God has called you to international ministry. Either way, faithfulness is the key to fulfilling your ministry.
The term Paul uses here for “ministry” is the greek word “diakonos.” This is where we get the word “deacon.” The idea here is originally expressed in Acts 6. It describes a servant that would wait on tables and serve food. Paul essentially was telling Timothy to be faithful to serve. He didn’t tell Timothy to strive to have his name in lights. He wasn’t instructing Timothy on what top of the line clothes he should be wearing, car to be driving, or expensive jewelry to wear. The basis of Paul and Timothy’s ministry was found in their faithfulness to God’s call.
Today, you have the opportunity to launch out into the great things that God has for you, or like the restaurant I spoke of earlier, you can find yourself “closed for business.” As Paul instructed Timothy, let’s not shipwreck our faith (1 Tim 1:19), but be faithful to serve!