Paul gave Timothy a lot of leadership and pastoral advice. 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy are absolute pastoral gold mines. From church leadership to facing false teachers, stewarding finances to prioritizing prayer, the roles of men and women in the church to spiritual gifts… Virtually everything you need to know about leading the local church is found in those two letters. Out of it all, one gem shines above the rest, and it’s only three words:
“Preach the word.”
2 Timothy 4:2 ESV
There are many other things pastors can and should do but this is a non-negotiable. In fact, if you get everything else right, but you miss this, you miss it all.
People want truth.
I always love hearing specific ways a message I’ve given impacts people. By far, the thing I get thanked for the most is my willingness to speak hard, honest truths (in love). The world has plenty of entertainment, thrills, and feel-good experiences. What they need is truth. I’m not saying church shouldn’t be fun. Church should be enjoyed, not endured. While we should never use truth to beat people up or guilt them into something, I am saying not to avoid truth. Paul and Timothy didn’t avoid it, and neither did Jesus.
“But it just doesn’t seem very loving,” people will say. There are certainly plenty of preachers who speak the truth, but in very harsh, abrasive, demeaning ways. That’s not what we want. Speak the truth in love and let God do the heart convicting and soul changing. Also, who said truth wasn’t loving? A big mud and rock slide just blocked all of I-24 East heading into Nashville. The most loving, helpful thing they can do is tell us the truth: it’s dangerous to proceed – go a different route!
Don’t apologize for God’s Word.
Jesus wasn’t scared to say it how it is. Read John 6 when Jesus told the massive crowd that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood. I’ll bet even the disciples were disappointed when that came flying out of Jesus’ mouth. “We had finally gathered a big crowd and then Jesus goes into the blood and body bit!”
You are not God’s PR rep, trying to make Him appealing to the masses. He doesn’t need your help with marketing, and He certainly doesn’t want you apologizing on His behalf for the hard truths of Scripture. He included the tough stuff for a reason. Speak it in love, live it yourself, commit to walking it out with people, and let God take care of the results.
And by the way, although you should never set out to offend people, if you’re going to offend someone, offend them with truth. Don’t let a non-essential side issue be the thing that ticks them off and makes them leave.
Teaching about the Bible is different than teaching the Bible.
Lots of pastors teach about the Bible. It’s challenging to find pastors who teach the Bible. Without going into a full discourse on hermeneutics and homiletics, let me just quickly delineate the difference…
Teaching about the Bible often involves using the Bible to prove your point or drive home your idea. In this case, the Bible is more of a crutch you lean on to support your cause or soap box.
Teaching the Bible means letting Scripture lead the way. In this case, the Bible isn’t a crutch that supports your ideas, it’s the foundation and the framework that supports the whole structure.
Preach the word.
Don’t back down.
God’s Word is God-breathed. Let it loose and let it do its thing in the lives of those you preach to!
DID I MISS SOMETHING?
We’ve covered a lot over the last few months, but maybe I’ve missed a topic you’d like addressed.
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