The Ministry is Not a Movie
Updated: Sep 20, 2018
When you watch a movie, you see people acting out a drama; there is theme music playing in the background and when someone is playing the hero, everyone knows that they are the hero. Emotion builds as you watch the hero in action and, even if they die, you still think to yourself “how wonderful it must be to be the hero.” Movies cause us to romanticize and fantasize—to imagine that we are someone we are not.
In real life, there is no theme music playing in the background; you’re not some superhero defying all odds; and, no, people aren’t watching you, wishing that they were you. This is especially true in the ministry. The ministry is not a movie—it is REAL; it is RAW; and often, it is ROUGH. To romanticize the ministry is a dangerous thing, because it will cause you to live in a false reality and to forget that faithfulness comes at a price (Luke 9:57-58; 22:33).
See, faithfulness doesn’t always feel good; a life of faithfulness is going to lead you into some circumstances that are not pleasant—situations where people may be upset with you, abandon you, and criticize you. It will bring you to a place where the only way you can remain faithful is by knowing what is right from the Word of God. This is the kind of mindset you must have to remain faithful—“I know what God’s Word tells me and I’m going to do it no matter what. I’m going to stand with God, even if it costs me everything!”
In Paul’s final moments on earth, he reminds Timothy of the realities and requirements of faithfulness and encourages him to remain faithful until death. He paints a very different picture of what faithfulness is—one that most Christians will not accept. For many Christians, faithfulness is simply defined as regularly attending a church service, fulfilling a ministry commitment, or maintaining a daily devotion. Yes, we are to remain steadfast in these spiritual activities, but faithfulness in the ministry requires more than just fulfilling our duties and commitments. Read what Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 4:1-6 and consider six realities and requirements of faithfulness.
Faithfulness requires SUBMISSION – Verse 1 “I charge thee...” Before someone takes the role of leading God's people, they should learn how to submit to authority humbly and consistently. Paul was the mission team leader: he instructed, he directed, he decided, he corrected—and Timothy humbly submitted to his leadership. Learning to submit to the authorities God has placed over us is challenging, but it is necessary if we desire to please God and be found faithful (Romans 13:2; Matthew 25:14-30).
Faithfulness demands STEADFASTNESS – Verse 2 “...be instant in season, out of season...” We all have our favorite season of the year (for me, it is Spring!), but in the ministry, the seasons can change multiple times within just one day—depending on to whom we are ministering. Not everyone we minister to is enjoying a sunny Spring day! People come with problems, prejudices, and pointed points-of-view. You can’t run from them or avoid these undesirable seasons; you must be steadfast and confident in the Truth that can turn the darkness into light. Paul told Timothy “Preach the WORD.” God’s Word is the only answer to people’s problems and “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
Faithfulness endures SILLINESS – Verse 3 “For the time will come...” It doesn't take long before your heart is broken in the ministry. Some of my deepest heart wounds came as I watched those that I led to Christ, poured my life into, and served alongside walk away over childish, petty, silly issues. It’s hard to start over after a “gut punch,” but thankfully, God heals the broken heart and renews the wounded servant. The reality is that more people will walk away from truth than take up their cross and follow Christ—don’t be one of them! Don’t allow the decisions of others to weaken your conviction: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Faithfulness involves SETBACKS – Verse 4 “...they shall turn away their ears from the truth.” Truth has never been popular with the majority. Since the beginning of time, false teaching and false teachers have convinced, confused, and corrupted people, making it more challenging to for us to convey the truth of God’s Word. O, how we wish Satan’s message and ministers would just disappear! But we know that won’t happen until Christ returns to earth. So, what are our alternatives? Quit exposing false doctrine? Compromise in order to reach the lost? Whine about how hard it is reach people? No, setbacks are a part of the ministry, but “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against” the message of truth! March on!
Faithfulness embraces STRUGGLES – Verse 5 “do the work.” Between work and play, play is much more enjoyable, but it produces very little. God has called us to a work and this work is demanding. Ministry is not a nine to five job; you can’t clock in and clock out. A sermon must be prepared and preached even when you’re unwell; prayer must be a priority even when you’re distracted; people must be loved even when they’re acting out; and Christ-like character must always be displayed even when the flesh doesn’t want to. Living a faithful life is hard work! When you start loving even the struggles of the ministry, you will know that you love the work.
Faithfulness takes SACRIFICE – Verse 6 “offered.” The Scriptures leave no doubt that Paul gave his all; he was faithful from beginning to end. He is a hero of the faith; a hero that many Christians would like to play in a movie, but not in real life. D.L. Moody is quoted as saying: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. I aim to be that man.” Faithfulness begins with a willingness to surrender and sacrifice all for Jesus Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
This is what faithfulness really looks like! And if you plan to live a faithful life, you have to grasp how difficult faithfulness can be—understanding that the only way to live a faithful life is by FAITH (Hebrews 11:6-7).