2 Timothy 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry
And what was Timothy’s ministry? To lead, feed, and protect the flock! So the first thing he needed to do was be watchful – awake and aware of what was going on and what potential threats there were to the peace and safety of the flock. He was to investigate the religious and philosophical environment and make sure no intellectual diseases had made the place unhealthy. Whenever and where ever he discovered such threats, he was to deal with them as a good shepherd.
In this time in which we live, more and more we’re being told that it’s intolerant to disagree with differing ideas, lifestyles, and beliefs. Because truth is no longer an absolute, it’s determined by whatever works and no one’s truth has any more merit than anyone else’s. It seems the only intolerance that’s acceptable today is the rejection of the Christian faith.
It seems anything goes except Biblical Christianity. Unfortunately, many well meaning Christians have bought into the idea of an uncritical tolerance. When a caring and watchful pastor dares to warn the congregation about a false teacher or errant teaching, he is often rebuked for being intolerant.
“Can’t we all just get along” has become the rallying cry for many. The answer to that is a resounding – Yes! We can all get along, in fact, we all ought to get along, if by “all” we mean genuine believers.
The Unity that God desires for His people is a Unity under Truth. We must never sacrifice truth on the altar of unity. If it isn’t true, if it doesn’t conform to the Will of God, then there is no unity – on the contrary, the Lord calls us to separate ourselves from error. Because there will always be error and false teaching, the pastor must constantly watch and warn.
The pastor also does the work of the evangelist as he lays out the meat for the believers, he makes sure there’s milk on the table for the lost. He includes the basic elements of the gospel the Holy Spirit can take and apply to those who sit one seat removed from the table. Then, he invites them to take a seat at the table by offering them an opportunity to respond.
This is why my pastor will usually weave certain words into virtually every message and study – that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead to give us new life. That’s the basic gospel – and God uses it to win the lost.
Brothers and sisters, we have at our disposal today the very same resources every generation of the people of God have had – the Word and the Spirit of God! In fact, in some ways, we are even better off – because of modern technology we have complete Bibles we can carry around with us. The advances in archaeology have discovered a wealth of information about the culture and languages of Bible times that add depth to our understanding of the text.
My pastor recounted a story of when he was a young boy praying that Jesus would appear in his bedroom. He says that if that happened, then he just KNEW he would be the next Billy Graham. He then says he realized how foolish this type of thinking is.
Our obedience and the depth of our devotion to the Lord is not about externals – it’s about our heart! Do we love the world or God? It’s one or the other – it cannot be both.
As James says in James 4:4 . . .
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
2 Timothy 4:14-15
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
Just as Paul told Timothy to be watchful and warn the flock under his care, Paul now warns Timothy to watch out for one particular man in Ephesus. His name was Alexander – the head of the metal workers guild in Ephesus whose speech in the theater had incited the anger of the population of Ephesus against Paul and the emerging church there. Alexander was still acting as the point man for opposition and Paul warns him to keep an eye on him.
If anyone needs biblical support for the idea of naming names and pointing out trouble-makers, here is most certainly an example of one.
In conclusion, a good spiritual leader is one who preaches the Word of God always keeping in mind the reality of having to be judged by God concerning rewards, to be watchful of false prophets and doctrines and to equip his flock with the truth so that no one is led astray.
An effective, godly leader is to preach the truth of the Word even if it may offend so that those in his flock are not just getting pleasant words they want to hear, but they are getting an opportunity for the Spirit to move and convict their hearts. The effective leader is to also provide opportunities for those who aren’t sheep to become sheep by inviting those in the congregation, if they so feel the call of the Lord, to repent and accept the Lord. So the sermons should include meat for the mature Christians and milk for the young Christians (and non believers).
The effective leader is also to recognize falsehood for what it truly is, to expose it, and to also draw to attention those who’re spreading false hoods and expose them. The leader is not to rely on fables, visions, and various stories they hear as the heart of their ministries; God’s truth in His Word is to be the main focus.