Paul, an older church planter, encourages Timothy, a young pastor in the church's first generation, to remain grounded in the grace of God, having faith that God will accomplish his purposes through him.
The chapter shows us the nature of a faithful and qualified pastor who will endure.
2 Timothy 2:1 (ESV)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
It’s all about Jesus.
It’s all in Jesus and through Jesus. The heavy lifting has been done. Walk in him.
Eph. 6:10 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV)
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
(see Exodus 18:18-23)
Preach the word.
Teach others to preach the word (see Titus 1:5).
Some may be uncomfortable with the use of military language like “mobilize”. I am convinced that the gospel does teach Jesus followers non-violent resistance. However, it does not teach non-resistance. We do resist, and we do it together. We wrestle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but we still wrestle. We do contend both in the spirit against forces of darkness, and in the natural against conformity to the violent and corrupt patterns of the world. We resist powers and governments and cultural patterns that are contrary to the justice and love and freedom that Jesus’ preaches and gives. And together, we are an army. Jesus is our commanding officer. Citizens of the Kingdom are ambassadors that go out into the world carrying the message of the Kingdom. Kingdom ambassadors go into the world prepared to resist the powers that believe they are in control. We are mobilized. We teach teachers who teach teachers.
Teach faithful and qualified people. We promote character and giftedness both, not either/or. People can become qualified through development and training. For those of us in ministry, we are reminded to remain faithful and qualified. We should use and challenge our gifts.
2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Paul goes on about developing others by telling Timothy later in the chapter to remind these people often of the gospel and the cost of Following Jesus (vv8-10). He also encourages them not to be idle arguers over words, but to remain firm in the basic truths of the gospel (vv11-14).
Remaining faithful and qualified in the word and in the spirit, and teaching others to do the same is very hard work.
2 Timothy 2:3 (ESV)
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
Hardship and trials are a normal Christian experience.
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Romans 8:35, 37 (ESV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Hardship is certain. Our victory in Jesus, and his love for us are even more certain.
Faith in his love and his victory won for us will give us the perseverance to endure.
2 Timothy 2:4-7 (ESV)
4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
3 Habits of Faithful, Qualified Church Leaders with Endurance
1 - A Soldier - Civilian Affairs
A faithful and qualified pastor’s first priority is to please Jesus. (v4).
Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
God intends his disciples to live changed lives that change lives.
This world is our home. We are not just passing through.
Matthew 6:1 (ESV)
Beware of practising your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
We are salt and light in this world, but it is not us that is seen, but our good works for God’s glory.
We only live for the approval of God, not the approval of people.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The things of this world choke out God’s word in our lives (Matthew 13:22 – the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word).
When our eyes and heart are singly focused on Jesus, we know the will of our commanding officer, and are able to please him.
Philippians 3:4-11 (ESV)
…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[a] blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Jesus is our priority. We have little time or energy for anything else.
My priorities (match my roles)
Once I place these in my weekly schedule, I don't have much time left for frivolous things. I know how to rest, but I am no longer concerned with Youtube memes, gossip, or many of the other things that used to rent space in my time before prioritizing my life according to the Kingdom.
Paul warns Timothy numerous times in this chapter of how easily he could become distracted by irreverent it useless babbling (vv17-18, 23-26). Arguments among Christians over silly details derail us from our purpose - to live by faith according to God's just Kingdom, proclaiming his freedom, love, and grace to a lost and hurting world. Don't get distracted.
2. An Athlete – Competes by the Rules
A faithful and qualified pastor is disciplined (v5).
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Our private life should be viciously disciplined to be free from besetting sins and entanglements.
We should not be distracted by the world (v4), and we should not be bound by besetting sin (v5).
Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)
(continues from last point)
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Our daily prayer is that God will forgive our sins (Matthew 6:12). We aren’t perfect yet. But we must not use this as an excuse for laziness. On the contrary, we need to be an example of purity and righteousness to our congregations. And when we fail, we must be an example of repentance and humility, as Paul is here. There should be no hidden and habitual sin in a pastor’s life.
Have regular accountability in your life, a person who you regularly check in with about your time with Jesus, and your private world.
A faithful and qualified pastor is filled with the word before teaching others (v6).
Denying yourself to follow Jesus does not mean ministering at the expense of your time with Jesus or your family’s time with you. You should be filled first, and then give. Pour out your life for your congregation, but from a full vessel.
Have a Sabbath. Take a whole day off. Don’t prepare your message for next week. Don’t meet with your congregation. Don’t check your email.
Give to your family before giving to your church. Don’t give your kids your leftovers. To make sure I do this, I take time daily for my family, and a whole day on Saturday, before I preach so I’m fresh for them.
1 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)
(speaking of payment of those who preach)
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
1 Corinthians 9:23 (ESV)
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Hebrews 10:36 (ESV)
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
The chapter ends with a strong encouragement to proclaim the word with gentleness, sensitivity, and integrity (v25). Paul had a lot of experience with opponents, even those who tried to kill him. Still, he remained a gentlemen. Through all his trials before Rome, he did not attack his opponents, nor pander to his captors. Freedom in the Kingdom gives us the freedom to take the high road. We don't need to fight people who disagree with us. In gentleness and grace, we give the Holy Spirit room to speak through us, and maybe turn our enemies into family.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
To minister the gospel is a blessing! (1 Cor 9:23)
We live for a heavenly kingdom! (Matt 6:33)
We have the approval of our commanding officer! (2 Tim 2:4)
We have treasure in heaven! (Matt 6:1)
We’re going to win this race, and get a victor’s crown! (2 Tim 2:5)
We receive the blessings of the gospel first! (2 Tim 2:6)
Enjoy your ministry. Thank God for the blessing of your calling and gifts. Love your congregation.
Read 2 Timothy 2