But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:11-12
Paul sent these words to Timothy as he labored as a young minister of the gospel, but I find they fit any stage of ministry, and are encouraging not just for new ministers, but also for seasoned old dogs like me! One of the dangers of long-term vocational ministry is settling into complacency. I have to fight it from time to time. It is a great thing to love and serve people faithfully over many years, and I dearly see it as one of the unique blessings of my life. But it is also dangerous. If a person is not careful, they can rely on old actions rather than new proclamation of the gospel. You can catch yourself spending relational capital with familiar people too quickly rather than investing in harder gospel ministries to new people.
Pastors and all Christians who are committed to serving Christ with their gifts must always pursue what is right, seeking to live godly lives, living by faith, loving people, staying steadfast in faithfulness to Christ and His gospel, and gently fighting the good fight! It is in so doing that we hold to the gospel and hence to the good confession we made of it when we first believed. That should never change.
I thank You that this admonition to Timothy holds true for me. And help me to model it faithfully, finishing ministry well. I don't want to fade into irrelevancy concerning the gospel. I don't want to burn out, neither do I want to rust out... I want to be known as a man who faithfully, gently, yet passionately held to the good confession of the gospel and in that way fought the good fight.