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Encourage: Focus on fundamentals

Chuck Swindoll has often told the story of Thomas Henry Huxley, a famous 19th Century intellectual who was known for attacking biblical Christianity. After a lecture one day he stepped into a horse drawn taxi for a ride to the train station. Assuming that the driver has been instructed where to go, Huxley simply barks the order, “Hurry. Drive very fast!”

Huxley then leans back into his seat and rests his eyes for a bit. When he finally looks out the window he realizes the carriage is going in the wrong direction, away from the train station. Leaning forward, the scholar shouts to the driver, “Do you know where you are going?” Without looking back, the driver yells a classic line, “No, your honour! But I’m driving very fast!”

I have often thought about that story this year. It does seem that though we are not sure where we are going, we are certainly moving very fast. Busy, burdened, frantic, fatigued—trying to adjust to the constant waves of change and challenge.

I have been reading Paul’s Pastoral Epistles. In both his letters to Timothy, he offers some basic direction to the young pastor facing internal and external challenges. Read 1 Tim. 4:11-16 and 2 Tim. 4:1-5. It seems to me that Paul’s counsel is not to hurry up, not to run faster or to find new methods. Instead, he calls us to slow down and give focus to some fundamentals.

As pastors and church leaders in this challenging year, we would do well to focus on the following:

  1. Set a good example for your people. Don’t just tell your people how to live, show them. Set an example of confidence, the joy of the Lord, purity in word and deed. The people in your church and community are watching you; now is the opportunity to shine. Live like you believe Jesus is on His throne, Lord of all and Lord of you. Be patient, be strong, be alert, be steady. “Pay close attention to yourself!” (1 Tim. 4:16)
  2. Read, teach and preach the Word of God. We don’t know much, but we do know that the Word of God is good seed that bears good fruit. Keep sowing the seed. Make sure that it is obvious to everyone that you are devoting time, prayer and effort to your teaching and preaching. If you can’t do anything else, continue steadfast in the ministry of the Word. The spiritual well-being of your people depends on it.
  3. Do the work of personal evangelism. This virus has changed our patterns of activity. You might not be keeping the same schedule or leading the same programs, but this is one thing that you can do: personal evangelism. You can share the Gospel with the people around you. Maybe our Lord altered your schedule for this very purpose. Were you so busy that you were blind to your lost neighbor? Most of us had much 2020 time committed to “stuff” that is no longer happening. Let’s use that time to do the work of evangelism.

Brothers and sisters, if we will focus on these three fundamentals, 2020 will be well spent.

But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5 CSB).

Hance Dilbeck

Author: Hance Dilbeck

Hance Dilbeck is executive director-treasurer with Oklahoma Baptists

View more articles by Hance Dilbeck.

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