The characteristics of a Successful Ministry (1 Timothy 4:11-16)

1 Timothy Evening Service  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Call to Worship

Psalm 95

Our help in in the name of the Lord
Who made Heaven and earth
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Song: Psalm 46A

Prayer of Praise and Confession







Assurance of Pardon


Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Pastoral Prayer

Civil Realm:

-We pray for our states senators: MR. Jones and Mr. Shelby
-We pray that you encourage them as they represent us well in Washington DC
-WE pray that they uphold the moral law of God in their posts
-We pray that they might promote peace and purity and order within our land
-chastise as they fail and remind them of the gravity of their rolls as they minister common justice in our land.

Mission and Ministry

-We pray for the ministry of the Curles Ministry in Burma.
-Be with Wayne as he teaches and we pray that the Chinese pastors that he disciplines and teaches grow in an understanding of the truth
-And that this ministry would prove effective at offering christ to the Chinese people.
-May the people of china truly see see christ and may their hearts be soften to the gospel of Christ

Salvation of all Men:

-We think of the lost within our own families
-We pray the you create within us a faithful witness to christ
-We pray that you give us hearts of evangelistic zeal for our families
-Soften their hearts. Give them a deeps sense of their sin, draw them to yourself


-We pray for mission in our church.
-We think of our ministry center.
-Use this ministry center to serve the church well.
-may all our missionaries find good support from our church and give us discernment in proclaiming christ to the entire world
-Give us a zeal for missions in our church!
-instill within us a burning passion for proclaiming Christ to the end of the world

The Sick and Afflicted

-Terry Malone: be with him and Dottie. Comfort them at this time. Send your spirit of encouragement to them. And bulster Terry both Physically and spiritually.
-Be with Mrs. Stubblefield as she continues to recover. We know that she has had a rough couple of weeks with surgery and sickness. Comfort her now and give her reprieve that she might worship you in joy and truth
-Cooper Family: As they desire deeply to meet their child and yet have gone through hurdle after hurdle for over a year. Encourage them in solid resolve as they seek to bring another child into the covenant.

Sermon Text Introduction

Open you bibles to 1 Timothy 4 with me. We will pick up in verse 6 and read through verse 10. This evening we continue our series in 1 Timothy and working through the church’s calling. In the chapter this evening we will see the remedy to false teaching in the church of Ephesus. Paul charges his son in the faith to pursue biblical godliness in doctrine and personal living. As Timothy himself values and pursues true godliness, then the church of Ephesus will likewise value and pursue true godliness.

11 Command and teach these things.

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Here ends our Epistle Lesson and this is the Word of God.

Sermon Introduction

What would make the Ministry at FPC-Tuscumbia successful in your eyes? I am sure that if I asked 50 people in this room today, I would receive 50 different answers. For many of us have different perceptions of success and we create in our own minds characteristics for success. Some look to the amount of people in our worship services or ministries . A full worship service is a successful worship service. And thus the church is often tempted to pander to the culture to increase weekly attendance. We might be tempted to measure success by how we are perceived in the community. The mayor tends to harken our doors or we have high favor of all in the community. Some might be tempted to measure success in the bells and whistles of our programs. We have the best and most robust youth ministry in the Shoals. I knew a church in Illinois who had a yearly play during the easter season. And the congregation often gloated their production as a great success as these plays sold out every year. If we are honest, we are tempted to view success in the church like the world views success. We are tempted to look to physical growth, money collected, and even community perception as a basis for the health of our ministry.
Paul has been laying the groundwork for a successful ministry in his letter for Timothy and the church of Ephesus. As you have seen in this book, Paul has been pushing back against superficial religion and the characteristics of success found within them. Paul sees success on much simpler terms and allows everything else to fall in place. We see in this passage three vital characteristics for a successful and healthy ministry. My plea for you this evening is to turn from superficial success and to true spiritual success.
Proposition: What are the Characteristics of a successful Ministry?

There must be a godly example (11-12)

11 Command and teach these things.

The Example of Godly Teaching (11)

The passage begins today by Paul telling Timothy to command and teach. Timothy is to command and compel his people in his teaching. I think we are tempted to take preaching and pastoral leadership as optional or as a recommendation. Preaching is not meant to be full of suggestions for Christian piety or knowledge. It is authoritative. Pastors aren’t theory crafters in the Pulpit that we accept or reject. The church is called to heed and obey their pastors in so far they are faithful to biblical truth.
The content of this teaching refers to the things that Paul had already instructed Timothy on in t his Epistle as well as the totality of Christian doctrine in the gospel of Christ. In other words he is to devote himself to the apostolic tradition. This means we have to teach and preach on even the difficult aspects to the congregation. That is why you hear sermons on sin, on women in the church, on human sexuality, and the list goes on and on. American churches have largely abandoned this approach and it is to the detriment of the people of God.
Paul expects these commands and teaching to get some push back in the church of Ephesus. And he expects one major way that false teachers and even the congregation may try to discredit him! Looking preaching on sin, sexuality, and the role of men and women can get you trouble quickly. Even though you have the Scriptures to back you up!

The Example of Godly Piety (12)

In verse 12, Paul charges to “let no one despise you for your youth.” This young pastor has accepted his first call by Paul’s recommendation. Interestingly enough, Timothy received this letter in his mid thirties and may have even been forty! Culture in this age put a premium on ones age. Think of the patriarch in the family that solely led the entirety of the family. Or the sages that led the synagogue. We tend to put a premium on age as well in our own culture.
A friend of mine took the helm of a large PCA church in his late twenties. and he celebrated the day that he turned 30, because no one takes a pastor in his 20’s seriously.
Paul anticipates that Timothy will be discounted because of his relative young age. It will be a handicap to his ministry in Ephesus. Especially as he tries to teach and preach difficult doctrines and truth. They probably thought “What is this pipsqueak trying to do here!”
Paul encourages him with some common wisdom that most young leaders can benefit from. Young leaders. We have many men in leadership at or around 40. And with deacon Nominations out, we might have even more. But this advice is helpful for all in the church. What is that advice? Basically give the nay-sayers no fuel for their arguments and charges against you. Timothy is to present himself as spiritual mature to the congregation in personal holiness.
I hope you see the gravity of personal holiness. We might address this idea in every sermon in this book. Personal holiness in the Elders. Personal holiness in the deacons. Personal holiness in the congregation. And now we see Paul calling the pastor to personal holiness. For this holiness is not only a benefit the pastor in regards to being irreproachable. But it is contagious to the congregation. Paul is extremely practical here. How does Paul instruct Timothy in holiness?
The first two nuggets are speech and conduct. Or in word and deed. This is very general. Pauls Speech includes positive speech. His speech must edify his people and must be truthful. His speech ought to be full of forgiveness. He ought to negatively avoid all speech that is unwholesome or filthy talk. He is to avoid slander, gossip, and anything that might tarnish his name and reputation. The same is true in conduct. His patterns in life must be exemplar.
The we get to more specific characteristics. In love, faith and purity. You know love is the greatest virtue in the christian faith. They set the example of love in the congregation. An unloving pastor creates unloving disciples. Which are antithetical to the christian faith. They are to trust God and show others how to trust God in their life. A faithless pastor creates wayward Christians. And they are to lead in purity. Total moral purity. None of this of course in passive, rather it is all active obedience!


I think the application is twofold. For those under 40 and younger. We are called to spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity will take you a long way. Volatility in young leaders often doom them before they ever get off the ground. Spiritual stability and maturity go a long way in any church. We have many young leaders in this church, myself included. And we have many that will come in the future. Influence and personal holiness go a long way for young men. That’s how young pastors become beloved pastors in the church. It is how young leaders become beloved leaders in the church.
There is also a word for our older saints in this passage. Paul addresses this as a solution to the problem in Ephesus. The problem of older saints is ignoring and minimizing younger saints. Instead of heeding the words of younger leaders, they are often dismissed because of age. Whether they are right or not. Those whippersnappers need to get in line. Thus this wisdom is for the whole counsel of God. Be blameless and exemplary saints of FPC.
Proposition: What are the Characteristics of a successful Ministry?

There must be a devotion to Scripture (13-14)

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

Success measured by devotion to Scripture(13)

Timothy is called to deep devotion to the word of God. Pastors and elders are to enjoin themselves wholeheartedly to the ministry of the word. We are told in this passage what must be done with the Word of God. First, We are to read the word. Devote yourself to publically reading the Scripture. This is in import from Jewish tradition which had multiple reading in their worship services. In the Early church they had two readings. One from the Scriptures of the OT and one from the apostolic writings or the NT. We continue in the tradition today. You might wonder why we read two scripture every lord’s day morning. You might be tempted to check out during the OT lesson or you might check out every week, but we are called to read Scripture, because it is a means of grace and growth. We grow under the plain reading of Scripture. Second and Third, Pastors are to exhort and teach. Exhortation is tied to the preaching of the word. Not only do they preach it, they also teach it!
They devote themselves deeply to this endeavor. All pastors are devoted to this cause. You might be tempted to think your pastors only work a couple hours on Sunday and that sermons are sloppy endeavors. The truth of the matter is that our office is not office at all. It is a study. We study hours every week. Our sermons and teaching take 6-12 hours to develop. Some pastors take 20-30 hours to write sermons. Pastors wear many hats, but their primary hat and duty is preaching and teaching. A pastor that does not preach and teach may not be a pastor at all.

Neglecting the gifts of God(14)

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

Paul pushes this even more by appealing to the gifts of Timothy’s call. The gift here is the call to ministry itself. Do not neglect your calling in the Lord Jesus Christ. Calling and gifts go hand in hand. You cant have calling without gifts. The temptation for pastors and elders in neglect in laziness. To rip sermons off the internet and neglect his public duties. There are eternal consequences at stake faithfully carrying out this call.


The word of God is like a meal. You may not remember any particular sermon and reading. Much like you probably don’t remember what your wife made you for dinner last week or even last night. But you would have starved long ago with no meals. The word functions similarly in your life. Its a steady diet that proves beneficial for all of God’s people
You can live without a youth ministry and Sunday School. You can live without WIC and mens ministry. You can live without programs in the church. You cannot live without the word of God. The mainline denominations have tried that and have died. We need the word of God and it is the most important and ordinary way of christian growth. You not only need the word of God.
You need pastors that love the word. That live the word. The seek to preach the word. Seminaries in the last century have largely turned away from emphasizing this vital importance. We want our pastors to emphasize business models and therapeutic models. Pastors are taught to be chief executives and counsellors. Those might be parts of the ministry, but they are not central to the ministry. That the ministry of the word is central to all that they do in ministry. My plea for you is to ensure and safeguard your pastors time in the word of God. There is a temptation to expect pastors to be too much and to do too much. instead, we should ask,“how can we ensure that our pastors have more time in the study?”
Proposition: What are the Characteristics of a successful Ministry?

There must be a Persistent Watchfulness (15-16)

15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

Immersion in Scripture and godliness (15)

We see an inherit call for watch-fullness in this passage. This is tied to diligence in the previous verse. There are to be immersed in the word of God and in godliness. Both points converge in this last point. The pastor is focused on the demand of holiness and the ministry of the word. They are not to be distracted from these two important aspects of their life. This is their all-consuming passion.
The intended consequence of this, is progress in the ministry. By leading your people in holiness and devotion, your people learn holiness and devotion.
My same friend that took the helm of a large PCA church in his late twenties gave me and my wife a great example while having dinner at his house one evening. Immediately after dinner, he opened the bible. Read the Scripture. Asked his children some basic questions in the scripture. Sang a few songs, took prayer requests, and then prayed. Im sure he does this with everyone that they invite over. My wife and I are still working on implement this, but I cherish that memory with his family as it taught me how to lead my family.

Keeping a close watch on yourselves and the ministry (16)

16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

This watchfulness is not temporary or momentary. Rather it is persistent. This is a life long endeavor and devotion. And it is through that endeavor and devotion that we see profession of faith. For the Lord uses local pastors to bring people to himself.
Im sure If i asked who your favorite pastor was or is. Most Americans would choose the famous ones. Sinclair Ferguson Or RC Sproul OR John Piper Or Billy Graham. But our favorite pastors should be our pastors. The men that pour out their lives to serve you well. For they know you and desire, to the best of their abilities, teach you the faith of Christ. For as moving as some celebrity pastors are, you need the daily toil of your own pastor in order to do well in the Christian faith. You don’t need remote pastors displayed on a screen. You need you pastor here with you, leading you onward as a christian solider.


Calvin say it like this, “It is indeed true that it is God alone who saves and not even the smallest part of His glory can rightly be transferred to men. But God’s glory is in no way diminished by His using the labour of men in bestowing salvation. Thus our salvation is the gift of God, since it comes from him alone and is effected only by His power, so that He alone is its Author. But, [Calvin says] that does not exclude the ministry of men, nor does it deny that that ministry may be the means of salvation, for it is on the ministry that… the welfare of the church depends.”
It is a sobering reminder for me in the gravity of my calling. But this watch-fullness is good for the ministry and its prosperity. But these should be our values. As Christians we should seek this sort of life. A life of blameless piety. A life saturated in the word of God. In service and outside of it. Your pastors are teachers of worship. And every Sunday, you are reminded how to worship privately as a family throughout the rest of the week. A life patterned by worship. By reading Scripture. By singing Scripture. by praying scripture with your loved ones. We have a lot to work on, myself included. But in effect, a church without the word and conformity to it. Is a church that fails to save its people. Follow Paul, timothy, and hopefully your elders in a ministry that sees its success not on superficial grounds, rather on spiritual grounds. Follow their lead.
Proposition: What are the Characteristics of a successful Ministry?


The success of ministry is not grounded on superficial means, rather it depends on faithfulness in the leadership and the word of God. And thus devoting the life and ministry to growing in holiness and reading and preaching of the Word. What is a successful ministry to you? It is a ministry built upon the rock. For only in the Lord Jesus Christ can a ministry prosper or fail. We need the blessings of christ here and now. For it is by his grace that we are save. It is by his Spirit that we grow in holiness. It is by his command that we hear the work of God and truly hear. It by his care the we persevere. He is the one that offers himself up for the sins of many. And he is reason we gather and do this simple things. We are blessed, when we are in a church that emphasizes these characteristics as success. Will you labor with your pastors by ensuring these characteristics are apart of the ministry here as we receive the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymn 401


24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
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