Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2
1 & 2 Timothy are two of my favorite Scriptural books–Paul’s fatherly advice to a ministry apprentice has helped me many times in facing difficult situations. When I stopped resisting and moved toward embracing God’s invitation (more like thumb-in-my-back, anything-else-would-be-disobedience call…but you get the idea) to me as someone in vocational ministry, my pastor at the time gave me this advice: Read 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Read them over and over. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what it is to follow Him as His child and serve as minister.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the first part of 2 Timothy 4:2 quoted by preachers, myself included. Be prepared to preach. Anytime. (And, boy, are we. This is one part of the Scriptures preachers know really well. Anytime you need a sermon–and even when you don’t, most of us are ready!)
But I never spent much time looking at the rest of the verse. Yes, I know about correcting, rebuking, and encouraging–after all, that is the work of preaching. But the part that kills me–the part I’ve been guilty ignoring from time to time–is that this is to be done with great patience and careful instruction (think apprenticeship as well as more formal instruction).
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have opportunity to preach the word–maybe not on a platform behind a pulpit (or pub table or music stand or whatever the case may be), but the living proclamation of Jesus is what you were created to be. Faithfulness looks like doing this with great patience as those carefully apprenticing others.