Ministry and Relationship: The Example of Paul

By Mark D. Roberts

February 13, 2020

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

Ephesians 6:21-22 (NIV)


In the closing verses of Ephesians, Paul introduces Tychicus, whom we assume was the one carrying Paul’s letter to those who received it. He appears elsewhere in the New Testament as a travel companion of Paul (Acts 20:4) and as someone Paul sent as his representative (2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12). But by far the most relevant reference to Tychicus in Paul’s letters appears in Colossians 4:7-9: “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.” In addition to delivering Paul’s letters to the churches for which they were intended, Tychicus was charged with bringing these churches up to date on Paul’s life, especially his imprisonment.

Paul’s letters reveal the personal nature of his relationships with his churches. He often describes his work and freely recounts his challenges and troubles (see, for example, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 10:1-12:21). He talks about how much he misses the people in his churches when he is not with them (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13). Moreover, he expects that they will miss him and be eager to receive news of his life and ministry. Thus, Paul sends Tychicus, not only to deliver the mail, but also to share news of how Paul is doing. Tychicus will, in fact, tell them “everything” (Ephesians 6:21).

Paul shows us that Christian ministry is essentially relational. Though it has an essential truth component, that truth comes packaged in love. Of course we learn this most of all from Jesus himself, but Paul reinforces the lesson through his personal example. Paul is not just the great preacher, the authoritative teacher, the church-planting apostle, and the profound theologian. He is also a full human being, one who loves his churches and opens his heart to them (see also 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). He shares his own life both as an example and in order to build the bonds between him and his converts.

If you’ve been reading Life for Leaders for a while, you know that I follow Paul’s example. In addition to expositing Scripture and making connections to your life, I also share my own life, including my joys and sorrows, my struggles and questions. I do this as one who seeks to imitate the way of Paul and, indeed, the example of our Lord. I am hopeful that my sharing of my own life will encourage you to allow God’s truth to penetrate your heart, to guide you as you seek to follow Jesus each day.

Let me close by saying that I am often encouraged when you communicate with me, perhaps leaving a comment on our website or sending me an email. It helps me to know your joys and sorrows, your struggles and questions. I am encouraged when I hear that something I’ve written matters to you in a special way. The more I know my readers, the better I am able to help you make connections between God’s truth and your daily life. So, if you ever feel so inclined, and you don’t have access to a Tychicus, feel free to let me know how you’re doing. No pressures. Just a friendly, Pauline invitation.

Something to Think About:

Why are relationships so important in Christian community?

Have you been influenced in your Christian life by the openness and examples of another believer? If so, what happened?

Are you willing to open your life to others so they might see the reality of Christ alive in you?

Something to Do:

With your small group or a Christian friend, talk about the importance of relationships and sharing of life together.


Gracious God, thank you for the example of Paul. He reminds us that Christian life and ministry is a matter of relationship. He encourages us to share our lives with others authentically and openly. We need wisdom to know when and how to do this well. Please give us that wisdom, so that we might develop deeper relationships with our brothers and sisters, growing together in you. Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Set Your Mind On Things Above: Heavenly Living for Earthly Good (Colossians 3:1–16)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

More on Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Learn Learn Learn Learn

the Life for Leaders newsletter

Learn Learn Learn Learn