Sunday, August 19, 2012

Credibility in Ministry

14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:14-19
When someone is unfaithful, eventually we lose trust in him or her. Over time, and if he or she persists in being unfaithful, that person can no longer influence us. This is also true in leadership and ministry. People who fail to be faithful to the truth eventually lose their credibility. To put it in another way, hypocrisy destroys credibility. How can we retain our credibility in ministry? We must preach the truth at all times (vv.14-18). We must practice the truth at all times (v.19). In other words, faithfulness to the truth brings long-term credibility. Hypocrisy, on the hand, destroys credibility. We must learn to handle the word of God correctly. We must avoid speculations. We must rid ourselves of man-centered preaching and teaching. One of the most important skills that we can develop is exegesis, i.e. understanding what the original author of the biblical text wanted to say. But we cannot stop there. We must also understand what the Divine Author (The Holy Spirit) wanted to say in and through the biblical author. This is called proper theologizing. We need both skills in order to be faithful. But we must also practice (or live) the truth. We cannot say one thing and do another. Hypocrisy, you see, destroys credibility. Our credibility ultimately rests on our faithfulness in handling the truth of the text and living that truth in our daily lives.

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