Tag Archives: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Ministry and the art of motorcycle maintenance


It was the alternator

Apologies twice. There’s no motorcycle involved in this post, just a picture of my busted ute. Neither is there any reference to the famous Robert Pirsig novel – I simply could not resist.

Here is the honest headline: Christian ministry is more like fixing a car than driving one.

In Christian ministry, we want to go somewhere with people. The journey is from unbelief to trust in Christ and growing likeness to Christ. Ministry is all about helping others on this path, by announcing Christ.

As Paul said about Jesus:

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Colossians 1:28-29

So often we treat this trip as a straightforward drive. We think that all who enter the vehicle will end up and the right destination. The vehicle might be church services, or small groups, or some other programme.

Motor maintenance is messy. When the car breaks down, you have to get safely home. Perhaps there’s a tow truck involved. Or roadside patch-up repairs.

When back in the garage the process is still irregular. Thirty minutes while the other guy finds the special tool he just knows he bought. Two hours testing out one part of the engine – that turns out to have no problem anyway. More time scratching heads for further options. Wondering if there’s an expert around. And always getting your hands dirty under the hood.

And this is just like Christian ministry. The word of God is sharp enough to open us up (Hebrews 4:12-13). The scriptures equip us by teaching, rebuke, correction and training (2 Timothy 3:16-17). These things are messy.

Ministry uncovers guilt and broken lives. It teaches that on our own we’re all stuck in sin. It makes confession and repentance a normal part of belief. It shows that reconciliation is God’s way, though running away is more appealing.

Often also ministry has long periods of apparently nothing happening. There’s no conversion or no change to see. We look at one area of life as a big problem – but it was not so important after all. So we keep on, even if unsure about what is the real story in that life.

We feel inefficient and not able to make the difference and unsure of ourselves. But that’s perfectly fine – because the ability never lies in the person ministering. The ‘ability’ to minister always lies in God and his grace. And he will bring his children home. So press on!

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Acts 20:32




Why Christians teach

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (esv)

Jesus was called Rabbi, Teacher. One of his gifts is the pastor-teacher (Ephesians 4:11), who shepherds the flock in teaching. We’re people of the Book. We do Bible studies (note that word ‘study’). And we still use preaching as one way of passing on the message.

Here are some thoughts as to why Christians teach.

We do not know

We teach because of lack of knowledge. Growing up not part of a church, I did not know why Jesus died. I had to learn. I thank God that people taught me.

All Christians will always have room to learn more. It starts with the fundamental: Jesus’ death and resurrection. It includes much more that builds upon this foundation: how did Old Testament sacrifices work, and what do they show us about Jesus?

Ask yourself: am I willing to learn new things?, what areas do I need to learn about?

We do know

We teach to remind ourselves, to remember what is important. To avoid forgetting, or a dangerous shift in emphasis towards what is less important.

The New Testament has good examples of this:
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you of the gospel I preached to you …
2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these …
Jude 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it …

Ask yourself: have I forgotten what’s important?, am I excited to hear the same good message again or am I bored?

We are wrong

We teach because we need correction. We actively hold in mind a ‘truth’ about God that is not true at all. Perhaps it’s a big, big, big lie – that we are saved by our own efforts. Perhaps it’s less huge, but it will still have an effect – the untrue beliefs of the weak Christians in Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8 could fit here.

In either case, it’s a blessing to find correction. As Jesus said (John 8:32), ‘The truth will set you free.’

Ask yourself: when was the last time you changed your mind?, are you at risk of apathy or arrogance and therefore unable to admit error?

We live the truth

The first part of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (above) highlights to profit to be found in God’s scriptures. My first three points are a reflection on this. The second part of the quotation directs us to the purpose of reading these scriptures: competence in serving God.

Ask yourself: does my life and service indicate that I am learning?, does what I learn transfer to greater commitment to God’s good works?