This past Thursday, on Valentine’s Day, John Piper was in Louisville at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He delivered a powerful and moving message during chapel. As an online student at Boyce College (the undergraduate arm of SBTS), I watched the live-stream of the chapel service and was gripped by Piper’s message from 2 Timothy 4:9-22. He unfolds the pains and joys of ministry, particularly pastoral ministry. As one who has recently responded to a call to the ministry, I needed these warnings, cautions, and above all encouragement that through all the pain, the joy and Jesus are worth it.
This message is a must see for all who are preparing for the ministry or are already serving God as a pastor, elder, deacon, missionary, or lay leader. It is thoroughly honest and tenderly encouraging. Below is the entire sermon on video and below the video I have included all seven of Piper’s observations from the text along with his closing exhortation and remarks.
2 Timothy 4:9-22
“Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Litnus and Claudia and all the brothers. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
1. Christian ministry is relationally hard.
2. Friends in ministry can let you down and never care for you again.
3. Good friends in ministry can let you down and still be good friends.
4. Jesus never intended the enjoyment of his presence to replace the enjoyment of the presence of other Christians.
5. Nevertheless, Jesus is the only totally reliable friend for sinners.
6. Closeness to God at the end of your life does not remove the need or desire to read and be spiritually nourished.
7. People with great influence and great authority don’t need great possessions.
“Ministry is hard. It is relationally hard. The Lord will stand by you. I testify after 32 years of experiencing all of these things…it is worth it. Walk in [to ministry] with your eyes open. Jesus will be there for you and that friendship is very, very sweet. Hope of the nations, be our God. Hope of the nations, be our King. Hope of the nations, be our never-ending friend.” – John Piper