2 Tim 2:1-7 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Here Paul exhorts Timothy to be fruitful by multiplying the truth he heard from him. Here is a very important principle of growth in ministry - leveraging our personal effectiveness by multiplication. Paul (first generation) commits to Timothy (second generation) all that he knew and Timothy then teaches the "reliable men" (third generation) who are qualified to teach "others" (fourth generation). If we want to leave a permanent legacy, we have to ensure successors down to the fourth generation. When every new generation seeks to work on this multiplication principle down to the fourth generation, we will see an explosion in spiritual fruitfulness.
Paul uses three metaphors to illustrate the principles for multiplication (3-D effect):
1. DEDICATION (Soldier- v.4): "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer." The soldier has to be dedicated to one focus - to please his commanding officer. Or we may put it simply: "to obey orders". So it is with us. We may not have uniform to put on, but we are called to be soldiers of Christ, always taking our order directly from Him to fulfill His agenda, rather than our own. This is not to imply that we must separate ourselves from the "world" (marketplace or normal social activities) but that whatever we do & wherever we do it, we do what we do because we have received "order" and have been sent there to fulfill the order given by our Commanding-in-Chief, Jesus Christ. We are not in the marketplace to make a living for ourselves, but we are there because we have been sent into the marketplace to make connections & reach out to people through the ministry of worship & word.
2. DISCIPLINE (Athlete - v.5): "Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules." An athlete has to be very disciplined in the competition in order to win. He has to know the rules and play by the rules. So in a ministry like worship & music or preaching, there are "rules" to observe. For the worship & music ministry, we have to abide by musical and band-playing rules. For preaching, we have to observe the rules of effective communication. If we ignore these rules, our ministry will be slipshod and lack excellence for God's power to flow through. Like the athlete, we have to be disciplined in our preparation of the ministry.
3. DILIGENCE (Farmer - v.6): "The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." Paul describes here the "hardworking" farmer will be the first to receive the share of the crops. There is no short-cut to success. God's grace does not make diligence UNNECESSARY but make diligence POSSIBLE. Maybe we are not the "hardworking" type, but when we operate under the grace of God's power, we will find that we can put in long hours for ministry preparation and delivery. If we are not prepared to put in the hours, we will not be able to reap the harvest. Like worship practices & preparation of the sermon, there is no short cut to effective ministry. I once heard Pastor Lawrence Khong say that he put in 30 hours a week to prepare a 30 minute sermon. So, the more effective we want to be in the ministry, the more efforts we need to put it.
Father, help us become dedicated, disciplined and diligence in obeying Your command so we can multiply the ministry You have given us. Amen.