Bruce (centre) with young Sri Lankan leaders.

Five keys for enduring and effective ministry

The following is an excerpt from a message that Bruce Hills preached during the 80th anniversary celebration in Pretoria, South Africa.

IN THIS SHORT ARTICLE I will focus on the first 13 verses of II Timothy 2 and unpack five keys from Paul’s words to Timothy for an effective and enduring ministry.

1. Be strong in grace and not in your own strength (v. 1)

Ministry leaders must not depend on their own internal resources, but draw strength, courage and dependence from God’s grace which is available anywhere, anytime through Jesus. Reach out to Him, call upon His name, rest in His presence and seek Him for His strength.

2. Reproduce yourself by intentionally investing in the new generation (v. 2)

Paul writes here of four generations of investment that should be present in the lives of leaders:

• Jesus invested in the life of Paul
• Paul invested in Timothy
• Timothy worked with faithful (reliable) men
• Reliable men imparted to others (presumably emerging leaders)

Ministry leaders are encouraged to intentionally invest in the next generation. Raising leaders is not a programme but a life-on-life relationship. Each of us must identify, foster relationship, train (equip), mobilise and encourage our spiritual sons and daughters. John Wesley once asked a group of ministers, “Are you doing the work of 10 men or putting 10 men to work?”

3. Endure – don’t give up (vv. 3-6)

To illustrate his point on endurance, Paul introduced three metaphors: (a) soldier, (b) athlete and (c) farmer. To endure, we must learn from the soldier to maintain our single-minded dedication to our mission and our unflinching obedience to our Commander. To endure, we must learn from the athlete the importance of living by right standards and principles (i.e. compete according to the rules). To endure, we also learn from the farmer to work hard and be patient with the seasons and cycles of ministry.

4. Be prepared to make sacrifices for the gospel (vv. 8-10)

The Gospel is powerful. It is a life-changing message. Paul encouraged Timothy to stay committed to the Gospel and to pay whatever price was necessary to see it preached and prevail. Paul had paid an enormous cost to preach the Gospel and he urged Timothy to do likewise.

5. Remember the promises of God (vv. 11-13)

These few verses record three promises and one warning. The promises are written to encourage Timothy. Similarly, to serve God throughout a lifetime, we need to constantly remember the specific promises God has made about our lives our ministries. Embrace them, live by them and actively believe them.
By following these principles we can be sure to have effective and enduring ministries.

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