The crux of Paul’s advice to Timothy is found in 2 Tim. 4:2-5. “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2a) Here Paul urges Timothy to be ready to preach the gospel and minister “in season and out of season.” The gospel ministry, unlike fresh strawberries, is never out of season. We must be ready and willing to share the life and works of Jesus at any time – when we “feel anointed”…. when we don’t “feel anointed,” when we have energy and when we don’t. This willingness to minister anytime takes self-discipline – an unpopular lifestyle for many of us. We don’t mind ministry when we feel like it, but, ministry anytime? That would cramp our style. Yet as Hebrews 12: 6-7 reminds us, children of God who are not disciplined, live as if they have no father. We need to be under the rulership of our Father. When opportunities to minister come our way — it pleased our Father for us to minister. Ministry knows no season. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
Eugene Peterson, who pastored the same church for thirty years, wrote a book entitled: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. John Wimber, who pastored the same church for twenty years before dying an untimely death, called it “Doin’ the Stuff” in season and out. Jesus of Nazareth, who labored in ministry for three years before being cruelly crucified by those he was ministering to, called it “Taking Up Your Cross.”
Let’s face it. It’s fairly easy to get up in front of a church and do a nice three-point sermon that ends with a snappy take-home Scripture. Once or twice. But do that same thing fifty plus times per year over a period of several years in the same church, and it starts to get a bit weary. As Wimber says it, it’s pretty easy to pick strawberries during strawberry season. But trying to pick a few choice berries in the middle of winter is not fun stuff, is it?
So it is for many pastors across the fruited plain of America. All alone. Underpaid. Overworked. No retirement plan. No pension fund. Just God and a handful of a few faithful friends who are praying God’s best for you.
Hmm. Sound familiar, dear pastor?
At times, it feels pretty lonely out there, doesn’t it? Pretty scary stuff. I’ve talked with numerous pastors of smaller churches over the years. Faithful men and women of God, serving Christ in churches where there are no other staff members besides me, myself, and I.
But then…there’s Jesus.
The one who has promised to be with us, through thick or thin, supporting our efforts to faithfully preach God’s Word, in season and out.
Thanks to the Apostle Paul who wrote his words of encouragement to Timothy, the lonely pastor who was questioning his call, debating about calling it quits. Just think of it. A young man, a disciple of Paul, left (or should I say abandoned) by his mentor to pastor a group of people who didn’t think that he was either old enough or wise enough to lead the flock. One lonely pastor, left to do his very best to shepherd a congregation who knew more about quarreling with each other than they did living graciously, in the Spirit, as a loving community of Christ.
But then, there’s Jesus.
Wimber served as a prime example to many as a man who simply loved Jesus and then did his very best to love the church he was called to serve. He was a churchman at heart, a gentleman who always loved the church, regardless of how much the church ever loved him back. A man who believed that the highest calling in life was to sell our pearls of great price, so that we could have the honor of serving the Master, feeding his sheep and loving “the hell” out of the flock.
So my fellow pastors: Don’t quit. Keep going. You are not alone. You are not a failure. The Master sees your labor and knows the difficulty of the task. Like Paul reminds Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4.2). If I understand Jesus correctly, I believe that he said that he will never leave us or forsake us. And if I understand the Bible correctly, it says that, in the end, the good guys will win!
So today, let’s keep our eyes on the prize and keep on keepin’ on with the Master. For his name’s sake.
Jesus, thank you for your faithfulness in your assigned task and thank you for giving us prime examples of men and women who have gone before us, not forsaking their call just because things got hard or because people started to complain. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower pastors today to keep on keepin’ on. Give us your strength for us to complete our assignments. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- How have I pulled back from “preaching God’s Word both in season and out”?
- Am I compromising truth?
- Am I pulling back from the full message of the gospel?
- Am I watering down any aspect of Jesus just because things are hard?
- How can I reach out to another pastor today, encour aging him or her to not quit or compromise as he/she strives to finish the good work Jesus has set before them?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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