The Integrity and Health of the Pastor and His Church.

Paul gives Timothy eight imperatives for living at the end of 1 Timothy 4. These instructions to a pastor are useful for every believer to live a well-disciplined life that shows progress in Christ-likeness step by step.


Do Not Neglect Your Gift

This last imperative for reverent living tells Timothy not to abandon his ministry (1 Timothy 4:14). Why would Paul need to tell him this? Timothy was a young pastor in a church with false teachers in leadership. He was not voted into his position but appointed by the apostle Paul. But well-disciplined people don't quit. They find strength in their shepherding care to persevere through hardship and everyday life.

As he faced opposition, Timothy had to remember that people did not give his spiritual gift of pastor-teacher. God did. Spiritual gifts are affirmed by the church body and leadership. People come to collective agreement with what God has already worked in a person's life at the point of salvation.

No gift is more special than the other. None are less important than that of pastor-teacher. Each of us is responsible to "fan the flame" of whatever gift God has given to us (2 Timothy 1:6). Just attending church or serving once in awhile is not pleasing to God. He expects you to faithfully work out the way He's recreated you. Each Christian has been given a sacred gift, to be used with sacred accountability to a sacred company, for a sacred purpose. This is all done by God, and He has the right to tell us how to use our gifts.

A Life that Testifies

A reverent life will naturally lead to opportunities to testify to the truth. 1 Timothy 4:16 summarizes, "Persevere in these things." This word means to work as hard as an athlete training at the highest level of their sport. The world likes to highlight people who reach a high level of achievement and have a quality of character about them. Similarly, your life's reverence demands that people listen to what you say. Christ-like character opens opportunities to speak God's Word.

Competitive athletes are never content to settle for second, third, eigth, or eleventh place. They want to be the best. A pastor should never be content to hold back in his own reverent walk. His goal is to be the champion, and the same goal will be adopted by each person following him.

The result of a reverent, testifying life is astounding: "you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." A congregation will know the way a pastor lives before they hear his message. They will remember his example and whether it backs up his preaching.

The pastor himself will be confident that he is born again because he is obeying the Lord. This principle is the same for every believer. Assurance is a feeling that comes when you are living what you know. Doubts come when there is doctrinal or practical inconsistency or ignorance in your life. As you learn more about Christ, you should live more like Him. Therefore, a growing saint is always assured. Real problems come if you feel assured though you are not living consistently.

Application Points

  • Well-disciplined people don't quit. Think of saints you know who exemplify this truth. Where do they find strength to persevere through hardship and everyday life? If they can do it, so can you. The people of God must persevere.
  • How would God analyze your service? Are you faithfully working out the gift that He's recreated in you? If you are not, figure out why. Address those areas with the help of your discipler or leaders.
  • Every believer should aim to be a spiritual champion. Are you passionate about your role in God's church?
  • Do you have doubts about your salvation? Most Christians feel this at some point. Assurance is a feeling that comes when you're living what you know. Are you learning more about what God expects of you? Are you living consistently with what you learn?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 – Spiritual gifts come from God.
A Hymn to Encourage: "A Passion For Thee," words and music by Joe Zichterman

Set my heart, O dear Father,
On Thee, and Thee only,
Give me a thirst for Thy presence divine.
Lord, keep my focus on loving Thee wholly,
Purge me from earth; Turn my heart after Thine.

A passion for Thee;
O Lord, set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God.
Hear Thou my prayer, Lord, Thy power impart.
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.

Father fill with Thy Spirit, and fit me for service,
Let love for Christ every motive inspire,
Teach me to follow in selfless submission,
Be Thou my joy and my soul’s one desire.