Everything in life, external and internal, seems to be a deterrent to doing ministry. If we are to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives, we must be prepared for an uphill battle, never believing the illusion that it will get easier someday.
Paul wrote to Timothy to “be continually taking pains with these things” (“take care, improve by study, practice, or cultivate” or “fix one’s mind on something”). He was telling Timothy to be diligent to know and carry out all the commands and instructions in Paul’s letter (and by extension, all the New Testament commands), which would take considerable effort.
Timothy was to “be continually being absorbed in them” (or “be immersed in or continually in something”). The New International Version translates it as “give yourself wholly to them,” making the knowledge and application of God’s commands our number one priority.
Paul later wrote Timothy to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2): when it is convenient and when it is not. In his commentary on 2 Timothy, John MacArthur wrote, “The servant of Jesus Christ is never off duty” (MacArthur, 1 & 2 Timothy, comment on 1 Tim 4:15).
Respect in the ministry never comes from a leader being perfect. Woe to the preacher who pretends to be perfect, always right, and flawless—-everyone knows this is impossible. It is more effective to be transparent about failures and quiet about successes. People identify with discouragements because that is where they live. The key to respect is not perfection but progress. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12–-14).
That “everyone will see your progress” is the goal. What they are witnessing is the transformation of an ordinary person into Christlikeness through the diligent study of God’s word and, in particular, His commands. Respect is gained by what you are, not what you say you are. “Take pains” to know His word and make it your lifestyle.
“Lord, nothing is as important for me to know as Your word. Only as I learn what it means and commit to practicing its principles will others know I am Yours.”