Question: Why did Paul tell Timothy “Do the work of an evangelist?”
Keep in mind the Timothy letters are directed at leaders – specifically to pastors. I have heard many leaders try to make that line into a call to all the church to take to heart that they were to do the work of an evangelist. It is indeed true we are to be gatherers and inviters, however, to use that line of scripture in that way is a misuse of the context. He was writing to a pastor and pastors who would follow in general – not to general church people. If pastors are living out their calling in a balanced way, there will be plenty of gathering going on.
Back to that question. Why the exhortation?
My theory is each time Paul or any biblical writer made a point of saying “Do this” it was stated because the “this” wasn’t being done! That is, Timothy had not in any consistent way been doing the work of an evangelist. Timothy was likely one of those pastors who delighted in seeing people make steady advances in their spiritual life, he was a hand holder, and he probably spent dozens of hours working on his home run message for the weekend. Does this ring a bell?
We don’t know a heck of a lot about Pastor Timothy, but it appears from the letters to him that he was not too different from most pastors I know and work alongside. He was likely one who enjoyed seeing people progress spiritually on an individual level. He most certainly felt like he was over his head in response to what was going on in his midst in Ephesus (“don’t let anyone look down upon your youthfulness…”)
More than anything, Timothy was one who had seen God’s Spirit show up in their midst and do some amazing things – probably when Paul was visiting. Timothy had relied upon Paul’s anointing to draw in the not-yet-believers.
Timothy was about to learn a vital lesson most of us have yet to learn: How to create an environment that sees people continually come to Christ.
Paul gave two pieces of counsel to get things on track and growing in Ephesus.
1. He reminded him of “the gift” that had been called out upon Timothy’s life by the leadership team earlier in Timothy’s life and ministry.
Just a thought: Ministry gifts are called out or “released” upon leaders – specifically leaders who understand how gifting works. The word “gift” here is ‘charismata’ – a beautiful word picture pointing to a ‘droplet of grace.’ When a gift of this nature is released in a leader’s life, as much as anything, confidence is imparted – a new and strong view of the future – a positive anticipation about something good in the future we are about to encounter.
My first significant mentor was a “Timothy” turned gatherer after he had been around a “Paul” who had shown up in his life. He frequently spoke of the need to recognize, pray for, walk in the “gift of gathering” if we are going to be effective. I wonder if Timothy received the gift of “gathering.” Archeologists estimate Timothy’s church grew in his lifetime to a weekly attendance of over 40,000. To quote another mentor in my life, “That’s a whole lot of God’s love son!”
2. He pointed out that he was to “do the work of an evangelist.”
Obviously there is an office in the church of “Evangelist” as Paul himself mentioned in Ephesians chapter 4. In effect, Paul was saying, “mimic what an evangelist does, only on a smaller scale, on a regular basis, within your role as a pastor…”
I can hear Timothy’s mind now (and yours as well, “But I’m not that kind of a leader/pastor… I’m introverted… I’m quiet… That isn’t my nature…”
This is part one of a two-part article.
Between now and next week think about this:
What does an evangelist really do? Knock on doors?
Lead lots of people to Jesus one on one?
OR could it be something else that is even more strategic?
A couple of years ago I spent about an hour with Billy Graham in close quarters – him, his photographer, his right-hand man and me. I had heard this before but thought it was a mere rumor. It is true though – Billy is a rather shy, quiet guy. He will readily tell you that. On stage, it’s a different story, but his personality is nothing like an ‘archetypical used car salesman.’
Hint: Living out this new kind of effectiveness might be far easier than you think!