“You point too much.”
Of all the things I thought this seasoned Bible teacher would give me to improve on, he told me I pointed too much when I taught. Honestly, I’d never thought about it. I had to go back and watch a few videos of me to see that—oops—I point a lot.
Have you ever watched someone when they point? If you could somehow turn off the sound and just watch, would pointing at people seem like gentle or harsh instruction?
I’m fairly certainly the Apostle Paul wasn’t telling young Timothy to not point. But as we engage with 2 Timothy 4:1-2 we see some principles causing us to reevaluate everything from body language to spoken language.
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.2 Timothy 4:1-2
New International Version
As Paul opens this section of the letter to 2 Timothy, his tone becomes serious as he reminds Timothy of the account all Christians will give to the Lord. The burden of pastoring the Lord’s people is borne with reality of the command and direction of the Master, Jesus.
The commands given under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration by Paul to Timothy include five areas.
- Preach the Word – This is the command to declare the Good News of Jesus. It doesn’t imply standing behind a pulpit as an “ordained minister” and teaching. Instead, it’s a call to be a herald of the Gospel whether in group settings or one-on-one.
- Be prepared in season and out of season – Everyone in a leadership role in a congregation of the Lord Jesus must be ready to serve. In a sense, it’s a reminder to be “on call” for the Lord. It doesn’t mean church leaders don’t get a break from the congregation; it means we don’t get a break from Jesus!
- Correct – Part of any leadership role is correcting where there is error. Leadership in a local congregation is no different. There are times Timothy (and us!) will have to correct what’s wrong.
- Rebuke – There are times we are not dealing with something intellectual but behavioral. It is unrighteous living the Apostle refers to here when people in congregational leadership roles must call Christians to repent.
- Encourage – In spiritual battle, there are times when the troops are weary. Timothy would need to cultivate encouraging people through the ministry of the Word as well.
The principle governing all of this is “with great patience and careful instruction” (verse 2b). Paul again reminds all of us: it’s not just the content of our teaching making a difference in people’s lives; it’s also the content of our lives.
Should we be harsh with people? Perhaps there’s a time and a place for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1). However, it seems the best tone of our ministry to others should be marked by “great patience and careful instruction”. It seems we should strive to build up and not constantly tear down.
I feel my mentor was right: I pointed too much and it sent the wrong message. My goal is to have a ministry marked by a powerful and simple truth: there’s hope in Jesus. Even when we stumble and really mess up, there’s hope in Jesus.
Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul meant.
And by the way…don’t point.
Did today’s post help?
Perhaps you’d consider the book, 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom. It’s a month-long journey through the Proverbs designed to help you pursue Biblical wisdom and live it out.