When Timothy was facing so many challenges, antagonism, persecutions and trials, it seemed so obvious that there was every reason to quit ministry.
In the world of today, many people have quit ministry because of challenges, some have gone very cold because of oppositions. Some have prayed and it seemed like nothing was working, some have used up their entire strength and their patience is failing them.
It was in such condition that Timothy found himself. Paul who was his teacher and mentor had something for him, it was not the kind of words we hear today, he didn’t say “well, just keep confessing positive, things will be fine”, neither did he say “by this time next week, things will change for you!”
Paul knew he’d be lying if he offers Timothy such words, he knew such words would be giving Timothy a temporal good feeling but end up being a lie. He had to be very sincere to Timothy and he decided to write him a second letter.
What was captured in Paul’s letter is what I believe that every believer will need to remain on fire for God regardless of what they are facing. Every believer has been called into ministry and therefore, these same words written to Timothy applies to all believers who find themselves or are likely to find themselves in the same situation as Timothy.
These 10 points will be beneficial to every Christian, more especially the young ones who are active in ministry.
1. Stir up the gift of God
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 KJV
There are times it would seem as though God’s ministry gifts to us has gone off, we would hardly feel any fire in our hearts and we would start finding it very difficult to do ministry. The gifts are still there, the fire of the Holy Spirit is still there but we need to rekindle it and fan it aflame!
Sometimes, what causes us to go down in our manifestations of God’s gifts or expression of passion is when we are living in carnality, when we have been consumed by the problems we are facing or fear!
Some people may want to go for a mission and then suddenly they can’t feel any passion for that ministry again, then they say “Whoa! That may be God’s way of asking me to stay back. If he wants me to go, he should stir up passion in my heart!”
Can I tell you the truth?
God can present you with channels or tools with which His gift in you and passion can be stirred up but truth be told, God will not be the one to stir up passion in your heart, it is you who stirs up passion. That is why you were instructed to stir up the gift of God, you weren’t asked to ask God to do it, you just go ahead and stir it up!
The gift of God is there already, the passion is there, the fire is there! Stir it, rekindle the fire. I love how the New Living Translation puts it
“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 NLT
Can you see that? It is like a fire, the coal is still very red on the inside, all that is needed is for you to fan it aflame! Let the fire burn again! You are the one to do this.
This is like asking God to make you love him, no he can’t. He already loved you and only you can decide to love him in return.
2. Do not be afraid
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
Consciousness is a very powerful part of our soul. Whatever we are conscious of begins to shape our reality. Paul needed to remind Timothy that the Spirit of God in us which released God’s giftings to us is not the Spirit of fear but of power, of love and of sound mind.
Therefore, when we see ourselves walking in fear, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of persecution and several other fears, we need to remind ourselves that this fear is not of God and we are not living out who we are in the Spirit. We must intentionally be bold, express God’s love and consistently operate in sound mind by staying in the place of the word.
The writer of Hebrew writes:
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 KJV
God’s word is powerful and when we operate the word in timidity, it yields no power. We must speak the word boldly with obvious authority knowing that none of God’s word will drop without fulfilment. We must also work in love and operate in a sound mind.
3. Don’t be ashamed
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner…” – 2 Timothy 1:8a KJV
Most Christians can relate to this. We live in a time where values are changing, cultures are being redefined, many are beginning to see believers as mere religious people who know nothing. These days, atheists are seen as wise while believers are seen as fools.
We need this exhortation more than ever because a lot of people find it shameful to carry Bible, to say “the Bible says..”, “I believe in God…” Or “I will talk to God about it.” It is becoming even more shameful to preach the gospel in some quarters.
We are in the age of information, many are using science to prove the Bible wrong, a lot of things are being debated and you may not comfortably preach the gospel in your workplace, your school and so on. Yet, Paul says “do not be ashamed to preach the gospel…” We also shouldn’t be ashamed of identifying with other believers boldly.
If you truly believe God’s word to be true, then you will boldly preach it regardless of what people think. If you have been caught up in the web of shame before, take up your role again, go back to your office and work boldly!
4. Be ready to suffer
“…but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” – 2 Timothy 1:8 KJV
Many people especially folks who “claim it to have it” will not be comfortable with this. The pew is full of people who have been wrongly raised. I love how the New Living Translation puts it:
“…be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.” – 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT
You must make up your mind to suffer if you want to live your life as a serious believer and minister of reconciliation. This is not something you do out of convenience, it is something you do out of necessity.
Paul wasn’t trying to sound cool, he had to tell Timothy the truth the way it was. As long as you want to live for God, you must anticipate suffering, you must accept it and you must be willing to be a part of it.
This suffering can come in many forms, it can be rejection or persecution for the sake of the gospel or it can be lack as results. A lot of people teach that when we give for ministry, God fills back out pocket. This is not always the case.
We must come to that realm of sacrifices, a place where we can be willing to give up precious times, to give up pleasure, to give up certain friendships, to give up valuable properties and so on! The people who brought the gospel to some parts of Africa left their families, their families too also made sacrifices on their parts.
They didn’t suddenly become rich materially but they fulfilled purpose. Purpose is not all about having money. We must be willing to suffer. Not that there will always be suffering, not that we shouldn’t pray and hope for the best but when the worst happens, we must accept it cheerfully and never let it deter us.
5. Keep holding on
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 1:13 KJV
There are many believers especially preachers who suddenly lose hold on sound doctrine because of the desires of the flesh. Some people quickly start teaching unhealthy “prosperity messages” of sowing seeds for business breakthrough, tithing against tight heavens and so on just so that they can raise money.
There are other people in this part of Africa who suddenly go diabolical, give false prophecies and so on. Some of these people started genuinely but suddenly couldn’t keep holding on to sound doctrine. In many assemblies, Christianity has become about “self” and it is less about reaching others.
To prevent ourselves from deviating from sound doctrine, we must hold on to sound doctrine, we must stay in the path of God’s word and refuse to stand where God’s word isn’t standing regardless of who is standing there.
Let’s read the same verse in New Living Translation
“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 1:13 NLT
The teaching of the gospel has a pattern and when this pattern is not followed, we do not have a wholesome truth. The pattern is that the gospel must be taught in absolute faith and love that we have in Christ Jesus.
6. Be strong
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” – 2 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV
I once found myself in a position where I was torn between trying to please certain people and trying to teach and stand in the truth. It took a lot of boldness to be able to look them in the face and teach nothing but the truth of God’s word.
It is in this regard that Paul asked Timothy to be strong in God’s grace and the teaching of the gospel. Far from just teaching the word boldly, it requires a lot to teach and take men who will be qualified to teach others.
There are times people would betray you, there are times people will act disloyal, there are times people you have done a lot for would wake up one day and walk away over a little offence, it is required that you are strong so that you can stand firm and never be discouraged as you entrust the gospel in the hands of others. A minister who is not strong and tough will never be able to teach the true gospel, talk more of raising and training other ministers.
7. Endure hardship
“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
Most believers are used to confessions like “I will not suffer! All my life is full of pleasure!” While these positive confessions are good, they often make us believe a lie and we get disappointed when they do not materialize. As believers, we have chosen the rough and narrow path, it is not negotiable. I love how the New Living Translation puts it
“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” – 2 Timothy 4:5 NLT
This suffering can manifest in several ways like illness, rejection, broken relationship, temptations and persecutions. Some of these hardships may not also come as a result of your faith in Jesus but they can influence you as regards to ministry when you allow it.
The first way to get yourself ready for hardship is to keep a clear mind in all situations. You may suddenly feel sick and you start wondering “but I have been serving God faithfully, I have been praying for the sick all my life, why would God allow me to get sick in the first place?”
When you start thinking that way and feeling betrayed by God, the enemy has set in and he will use your mind to discourage you from ministry. God never promised that you won’t experience hardship. Being a believer alone means that aside from the roughness of this world which everyone is exposed to, you are also prone to suffer as a result of your faith!
People may leave you because of the gospel, you may feel sick on a mission, you may experience some level of lack but you must not be taken by surprise when you are hit hard by troubles. Jesus said
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV
You see, Jesus took time to prepare and inform his disciples about the problems and hardships that were before them but the reason he was telling them these things was to also make them understand that it is in him they will find peace. This further tells us that our experience of peace is not dependent on the circumstances of this world.
We have assurance. Despite all troubles, Jesus assured us that “we should be of good cheer because he has overcome the world.” As a result of his peace, we can endure suffering.
When Paul asked Timothy to endure suffering, he wasn’t asking him to keep living, he was asking him to keep living just as though there was no suffering without throwing in the towel. As believers, we shouldn’t respond to our sufferings with anger or bitterness, we should rather let the peace of Christ cloud our minds.
8. Be diligent
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – II Timothy 2:15-16 NKJV
This wasn’t the first time Paul was instructing Timothy to be diligent, however, at this time, Timothy needed a reminder because he was in a situation where it seemed he would lose it, he needed to be reminded that a minister of the gospel needs to present himself boldly as one who has been approved by God.
Being diligent isn’t merely about praying and fasting, Paul didn’t even mention it here. Diligence in ministry is to stick to God’s word and teach it without fear. While God has approved us for ministry, it is our responsibility, and not God’s, to present ourselves as those who have been called and approved for ministry.
We must be given to the ministry of the word so that in the cause of our ministry, the word of God will do what it talks about.
9. Flee youthful lust
“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22 NIV
The young person is full of desires and energy, pressures from all sides also seem to make take tow on these desires and energy. For example, a young person wants to make money and appear good, a young person still has so much sexual energy looking to find expression.
These desires are good, the energies are good and God wired young people that way for a reason. It is with this youthful energy and zeal that we can do much more in the ministry, it is also with this energy that we break new grounds and make innovations.
However, when channelled wrongly, it produces evil in the same proportion that it would have produced good. When Timothy was instructed to flee youthful lust, Paul wasn’t discouraging him from being zealous or from burning for the sake of the gospel, he was rather asking him to flee from negative desires that always seem to take advantage of our youthfulness.
Instead of being eager to fight dirty, we must be eager to fight the good fight of faith. Instead of pursuing negative and sinful things, we should rather pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace alongside others.
Another way to flee youthful lust is to make ourselves part of a community of believers, this is why Paul instructed Timothy to do this “along with the who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”. We ought to be part of a community of believers so that we can encourage one another in the things of the Lord. Being a part of the community of believers also helps us be accountable to ourselves.
The worst thing that will happen to a man is moving in the wrong direction without anyone questioning him or beckoning on him to come back. This is what happens when we deny ourselves to be part of a community of believers. Fleeing youthful lust helps the minister to have a good reputation in the society. Just as Peter had written in his letter
“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15 NLT
10. Preach the word
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 NIV
I think this is the hallmark of it all and the essence of all previous points. Preaching and teaching the word is the most important aspect of ministry because it is God’s word that shapes the mind of the believer into becoming whatever God has called us to be.
We do not preach the word when it is convenient, we rather sacrifice our convenience to preach the word. Let’s see this in New Living Translation
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favourable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 NLT
Regardless of the time, we must preach the word! Some people believe we only preach when God asks us to but the truth is that he has already asked us to. Preaching the word doesn’t stop in explaining the scriptures, we must also correct, rebuke and encourage people using good teachings but this is ultimately done in patience.
Whether the going has gone tough, whether we are living in lack or whether our bodies have gotten weak, we must be committed to the word of God which is the essence of our calling!
We must not be ashamed to patiently correct or rebuke people when they err with the word of God. In a world where many are struggling to be politically correct and people are persecuted for taking a stand on the word of God, we must remain steadfast in rightly dividing the word of God.
I call you blessed.