This week I had the opportunity to share with the traveling teams of LifeAction Ministries in Buchanan, MI. These teams are in training preparing to travel for 9 months sharing the Gospel in churches across the country. In thinking about these young men and women on these teams, I thought about I Timothy 4: 6-16 and Paul’s instruction to Timothy concering Timothy’s life and ministry. Here are several principles gleaned from this passage concerning the life and ministry of the minister and more specifically, the worship leader:
1. Private Worship- vs. 6 and 7 discuss the priority of being constantly nourished by the word of faith and doctrine. Our private worship (time in the Word, prayer and meditation) should be a regular part of our day preferably in the morning as you begin your day. We minister to others from the overflow of our time alone with the Lord. We can not lead a person to a place we have not been. Before we lead others in corporate worship, we must be spending time in private worship. I like the example set for us by the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. He was so rarely alone during the day, he would often do his prayer and Bible study time from 2-4am in the morning while his team was sleeping. I am not advocating this necessarily, but I think this does show the importance of finding time in our day to spend with the Lord in His Word and in Prayer.
2. Personal Holiness – vs. 7 tells us to discipline ourselves for Godliness. Our effectiveness as worship leaders is wrapped up in our character. The well known Scottish preacher of the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne stated: “It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” M’Cheyne says “what his people need most is my personal holiness.”
The English preacher Charles Haden Spurgeon said “true and genuine piety is necessary as the first indispensible requisite; whatever ‘call’ a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he has certainly not been called to ministry.”
Are you guarding your life? Do you have someone to keep you accountable? Our character speaks louder than our preaching.
3. Perseverence – vs. 10 says that we toil and strive setting our hope our hope on God. Ministry can be very difficult sometimes for long periods of time. It is not for the weak of heart. Hebrews 12 reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and run the race with endurance. As a ministry leader you will give up your personal preferences and find yourself tired and at times emotionally drained. Remember that our battle may appear to be against flesh and blood, but in reality it is a spiritual battle needing spiritual weapons to fight. Put on the spiritual armor listed in Ephesians 6.
4. Priority of the Word – in your ministry place the Word of God at the forefront. In vs. 13 Paul exhorts Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of the Scripture. This includes exhortation and teaching of the Word. In our corporate gatherings we must allow the Word to have a prominent place. We should be reading the Word, singing the Word, praying the Word, and preaching the Word. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the importance of allowing the Word of God to convict our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to change our lives.
5. People are our ministry – In vs. 12 Paul tells Timothy to set the example of an effective minister in our conduct, love, faith and purity. Young ministers must demonstrate to their church members how God is working in their lives. Gain the trust of your elders in the church by setting the example of a Christ like life. Remember that as ministers what we do is all about reaching and investing in the lives of the Body of Christ.
6. Passion for the Gospel – Paul instructs Timothy in vs. 16 to work hard to make the Word known because it would result in the salvation of those who hear his instruction. We bring the good news of the Gospel to those who have not heard of Christ and to those who have been walking with Christ for many years. The Gospel must be central to our lives and central to our message. Strive to keep the Gospel in the center of your worship ministry. Jerry Bridges tell us that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It has been said that we never move on from the Cross, only to a more profound understanding of the Cross.