Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Faithful Minister

Moving from college to curacy to incumbency has been a time of learning - all the time there are new experiences, new challenges, and new expectations. I've jokingly talked before about things they don't teach you in college, but the truth is that the whole of ministry is a learning curve. Just think of some of the things that (sometimes unexpectedly) come with being a minister: steward, car park attendant, cleaner, photocopier, graphic designer, webmaster, and most recently, talent show judge!

These and other things may be good to do and be involved in, as they help build community, and make sure some things are done. But could it be that sometimes good things are holding back from the best? That other things which are good can crowd out the most important thing? Could it be that sometimes ministers and pastors don't have enough time to do their primary task because of the other things on their to-do list?

Yet again, Paul's letter to the Colossians is so helpful when it comes to clarifying the task at hand. We're still in the introductory thanksgiving Paul has begun the letter with, as he gives thanks for the Colossian Christians coming to faith, hope and love; as he thanks God for the global gospel growth. He also thanks God for the way the Colossians heard of the gospel:

just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:7-8)

Did you see how he described Epaphras? 'He is a faithful minister of Christ.' Now why was Epaphras faithful? What was it that showed he was faithful? He taught them the gospel, the grace of God in truth. He brought them the good news of Jesus Christ.

This is always the minister's primary task - to study and proclaim the gospel so that men and women, boys and girls might come to be saved as they put their trust in Jesus. The diary can be a constant struggle to keep the main thing the main thing, so that nothing will distract from this purpose.
In the early church, they appointed deacons to help with the distribution of food to enable the apostles to dedicate themselves to 'prayer and the ministry of the word' (Acts 6:4) This enabled the life of the church to continue to develop, and the apostles to be faithful to their ministry.

If you're a minister, how are your priorities shaped and protected? If you're a member of a church, how are you helping your pastor to be faithful in his work? At the end of the day, indeed, at the end of that Day, it won't matter as much if the cars weren't parked neatly or the pews weren't polished every week; it will matter if we've been faithful to the Master in the proclaiming of the gospel: 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'

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