bits from bob....
A simple instruction, often overlooked, hidden in a larger context--Paul's instructions to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). In one sense, a frightening challenge. How can a minister get everything done? There are not enough hours in a day. There are always more contacts to follow up on, more prospects to cultivate, more Bible studies to set up and teach, more books to read, more and better preparations to be done for classes and sermons. Across 40+ years of ministry, my experience is that many weeks, working sixty or seventy hours does not completely clear the "to do" list.
Perhaps a corrective is Paul's instructions to Timothy two chapters earlier (2 Timothy 2:15). Give diligence, do your best. I must be diligent and do my best. My diligence and commitment in ministry becomes the model and standard for the Christians among whom I minister. They will not do more than I do. They will not be more serious about the Lord than I am.
In applying the text reflected in the title, ministers must ask themselves two questions: What are my duties? How am I doing on "all of the duties of my ministry"? The text suggests that every duty must be considered-one cannot pick and choose the ministry activities that are most enjoyable. Paul writes, "...all the duties...."
A minister who discharges all of the duties of his ministry can expect God to bless that ministry. I mention three items I found essential, capable of making a difference, in ministry. These are three items that many ministers put in last place, but I believe they belong in first place when we are diligent and doing our best. (The list is not intended to be inclusive, and does include items that are a part of the spiritual life of every Christian, such as prayer and devotional time.)
An evangelistic minister is the difference between a declining or level congregation and a growing congregation. Studies show that teaching evangelistic Bible studies and winning a half a dozen new Christians each year (outside the families of the church) would bring most churches into a growth pattern. Such evangelistic Bible studies, coupled with normal family growth and those who move in to a community will stabilize and grow the local church. The minister is the first line of evangelism. If the minister is not evangelistic, the church will seldom be evangelistic. Many people are willing to study, but they must be asked.
A minister who visits will see the church grow. It is true that many people do not want the first contact to be from the minister, but it is also true that people expect a contact with the minister. People want to meet the minister. They want to know what the church "feels like." They decide to try out the church, not on the basis of their friend contact, but on the basis of their minister contact. The minister must be willing to visit contacts. Possible sources of contacts are found in benevolence work, visitors to the building, funerals and funeral meals, special activities, and activities outside the normal assembly times.
A minister who is in the word will reap the benefits of personal study and growth. For many of the early years of my ministry, I read the New Testament through every month. My early ministry occurred before the days of Internet and multiplied numbers of published sermons to be "borrowed" or adapted. There is no substitute for learning the word of God. Formal training is good, but it is the foundation, not the final fruit. Time spent in university training or Bible institute training is valuable, but insufficient. The minister must commit to continual intellectual and spiritual growth.
When Paul writes, "all the duties of your ministry," he suggests that we cannot leave any off. A great temptation in ministry is to become distracted and substitute good things for the essential and best things. Ministers must learn how to choose the best (Phil. 1:11). Discharge all the duties of your ministry.