We are all instructed to be a minister to others by loving and serving them. (1 Corinthians 10:24 and Mark 12:30-31) Paul gives us, and Timothy, instructions about how we are to equip ourselves to serve others in the fourth chapter of First Timothy. (1 Timothy 4:1-16)
Ministry Through Service
The Greek for the verb form of the word minister is diakoneo meaning to serve or to help. Ministry can occur in numerous ways. It can be accomplished by practical ministry or by spiritual ministry in the church, community, small group or in a one-on-one setting. It could mean serving by giving practical support or finances, or by teaching others biblical truths.
Paul tells us in verse six that it is important for a minister to be instructed in the truths of his/her faith. As ministers, we must know what scripture says about the basics of the Christian faith – the Gospel. We must be able to distinguish between biblical truths and “old wives tales.” And it’s only through the study of scripture that we can distinguish God’s truth as compared to what the “world” wants us to believe is true. Only then can we be effective teachers of others.
This chapter of Timothy also tells us that godliness, or ‘spiritual exercise,’ as it reads in the first edition of the New Living Translation, promises a reward in this life and the next. God wants us to live out our faith daily. We do this by incorporating spiritual disciplines and practices, as taught in scripture, into our life.
One critical principle or practice is to transform your mind (Romans 12:2) by understanding the fullness of the Gospel message and by adopting the Gospel, and associated scriptures and principles, as a mindset. When you do this, it will radically change your outlook on life and influence your personal behavior and lifestyle. This in turn will affect how well you are able to minister to others.
Yes, we must train, or exercise, ourselves to be godly. As an athlete disciplines himself to run and win a race, we must be rigorous and apply self-discipline in studying scripture and applying what we learn to our lives. We must practice our faith personally. The more we believe in the truths of the Bible and incorporate them into our life, the more whole we can become in spirit, mind and body. This in turn will better enable us to minister to others through practical service and teaching.
Questions to Reflect On
Are you effectively ministering to others? If so, how? If not, why not?
How spiritually fit are you?
What spiritual exercises – principles, beliefs or practices of the Christian faith – require attention in your own life?
Resources on Spiritual Exercises & Spiritual Fitness
Article – An Introduction to Spiritual Exercises