Elements of full-time ministry Pt. 1
I have just recently finished an Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies class through Reformed Theological Seminary, and I must say that it was well worth it. In the beginning lectures of the class, Dr. Derek Thomas, taught on, what he called, the four elements of full-time ministry in the church. I believe this to be very edifying and it should challenge all who are pursuing ministry in the church. I know it challenged me immensely and still makes me consider my calling more closely.
To understand what exactly the four elements of full-time ministry are Thomas referenced the first two chapters of 2 Timothy which clearly explain each of the four elements. It is my intention in the next few forum posts to discuss each of the four elements in some detail and prayerfully bring glory to God. In order to have a biblical understanding of what it means to be in full-time church ministry there needs to exist a hunger to know how our Creator God operates in Scripture, and there is no better place to start than discussing the topic of full-time ministry. From this passage in 2 Timothy, my hope is that God’s plan for those who are to be involved in full-time ministry will be obvious from and attractive. To God alone be the glory!
Element #1- Marked by an unashamed fidelity (2 Tim. 1:16)
Consider the words that the apostle Paul brings to his readers from this verse. There is much to be said. To be marked by an unashamed fidelity means a few things. A huge concept to understand is that full-time ministry is to be put in the context of suffering for the sake of Christ. Readers of the Bible know, or at least should know, that those who God has called to be ministers were also called to suffer. Paul was no stranger to this and it shows from this verse as Paul speaks of Onesiphorus not being ashamed of Paul’s condition.
There is a deadly misconception that has crept into the church and actually can potentially paralyze true Christians. The myth that being a Christian will bring about a perfect life free of worry and suffering is a lie that needs to be dealt with. Just because someone is a Christian does not mean that suffering has ceased. In fact, it often means the opposite. As Thomas said in class, “The closer you walk with Jesus the more likely you are to suffer” (2 Cor. 12:1-10, 1 Pe. 4:12-13, Phil. 1:12-14 are just a few passages). To suffer for the sake of Christ is to suffer biblically and bring glory to God. This is one way in which we are marked with an unashamed fidelity in our full-time ministry.
The second part of being marked with an unashamed fidelity is to not be ashamed of our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer along with us. It is our job as full-time ministers to support, encourage, and lift our brothers and sisters up as suffering happens. It is through the context of suffering that Christ’s bride, the church, is made more like Him. Again, just as Thomas pointed out, “Christ continues to suffer in His bride, the church” and can be seen to be true from Acts 9 where Paul was converted. Jesus did not ask Paul why he was persecuting the church, but rather why Paul was persecuted Him. Jesus continues to suffer through the church and this is something we must not be ashamed of.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is crucial for you and I to suffer biblically when suffering happens, but to also support one another through all of it. God has made His bride unique in the fact that she is made up of all types of people from all around the world and from all time periods. Christ has declared that we all be united as one body and by default must not be ashamed of those who serve and suffer with us as believers. To bring glory to God in the best way possible is to serve Him and love his commandments while fulfilling His command to love one another, even in suffering. Brothers and sisters be marked by an unashamed fidelity in our full-time ministry.