Jump Start # 2513
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Our passage today is written from Paul to Timothy. It’s written from an apostle to a follower. But, what I like, it’s written from an older preacher to a younger preacher. I once was considered one of those young preachers. Not any more. I can’t fool anyone. I’ve been preaching too long to believe that I am a young preacher.
When I was that young preacher, technology was so different. I didn’t have many older preachers in my life. That was my mistake. Blogs, Facebook, email, texting, cell phones, none of that existed. We poor young preachers didn’t make very many long distance phone calls. It cost too much. The means of communicating was letter writing. Slow. Very slow. So, there’s a bunch of us around my age who just learned by trial and error. It’s different today. I’m in contact with so many young preachers. They reach out all the time and I’m honored that they feel that I can contribute some advice and help.
Our verse tells the preacher that he is to endure hardships. What a contrast, because just before this Timothy was told that the congregation will be unable to endure sound doctrine. They can’t tolerate that. They won’t stand for that. So, they will find preachers who make them feel good. Ear ticklers, is how the apostle described those preachers. They weren’t standing in the truth. They were making sure that the congregation liked them and they liked the congregation. They couldn’t endure, but Timothy, you must endure.
Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross. There’s that word again, “endure.” Put up with. Patient towards. Longsuffering. Hanging in there. All of those concepts fit with endure. How did Jesus endure? Peter tells us that Jesus left us an example to follow in His suffering. He didn’t complain. He didn’t whine. He wasn’t a crybaby. He didn’t pout. He didn’t threaten. He endured.
The endurance race is a long one. It’s not a sprint. It’s not measured in feet, but rather, in miles. It takes a lot of preparation and about all that is in you to finish an endurance race. When you see those crossing the finish line, a common expression is, “I think I’m going to die.” It’s hard.
Now, take those thoughts and put them back into our verse today. The preacher is to endure hardship. There are hardships that come with preaching. That’s the nature of the work. Those that can’t handle it, need to find something else to do. A doc who doesn’t like being around sick people needs to find something else to do. An accountant that doesn’t like numbers, is in the work business. There are hardships that come with preaching.
- Sometimes they come from brethren, especially those who do not understand what a preacher’s work is. Some think it’s the preacher’s job to do everything. He’s the custodian, the yard man, the office secretary, errand boy and the go to person when you need someone because “everyone else is working.”
Some of Paul’s harshest criticism came from brethren who didn’t have the heart of Jesus. Preach the wrong thing and you’re likely to get an earful at the door. Don’t preach something and you’re likely to get an earful at the door. Every mistake, typo, misspelled word is loudly drawn to your attention. At the end of services, bulletins and class material are left in songbook racks, dropped on the floor and discarded like junk mail. Every sermon is supposed to be better than the last one. Some will criticize the way you dress, where you sit, how you walk to the pulpit, where you stand after services, the type of car you drive, where you park that car, and how your family behaves. All eyes can be upon you. The preacher is about the only person who has salary posted where everyone and anyone can see it. Endure.
- Some hardships come from trying to persuade people who do not want to be persuaded. They are content, stuck and not changing. Endure.
- Some hardships are internal, within the preacher. He’s working every weekend. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, he’s working. He doesn’t get company cars, stock options, and a world of other benefits that others do. Jealousy and envy are two enemies that the preacher must keep at bay. In the days that Paul wrote those words, most of this would not have been the situation. But here we are. Endure.
- There are hardships from travel. Endure.
- In Paul’s days, there were hardships in the way the preacher was supported financially. Endure.
- Some hardships are external, especially from the world. Look at what Paul went through. I tend to think this is where he was going with the “enduring hardships.” Persecution. Put in prison. Beaten. Those were common elements in Paul’s life. The scars that he wore would make most of us turn away. Endure.
But no matter the hardship or where they come from, God expects the preacher to endure them. The preacher must know that this comes with being a preacher. Quitting because you don’t like it, or you’re not treated the way you feel like you ought to be, or someone gets on you about something, doesn’t say much for endurance.
Tough it out preacher. Don’t lose your cool. Don’t look for greener pastures. You are doing the Lord’s work. You stand in a long line of preachers going back to Noah. The words of Christ that you preach saves souls. Those precious words change lives and impacts eternity. Don’t look for the easy way. Don’t look for the comfortable way. Get in there and do the Lord’s work. Do the work. Endure hardships. Be tough. Use your faith.
Every preacher that has preached for a decade or more has stories. Good ones. Sad ones. Thrilling ones. Heartbreaking ones. Good times and tough times. And, any preacher that has been doing this for more than a decade understands the value of enduring.
There is just something about that…