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Ministry and Relationship: The Example of Paul

February 13, 2020 • Life for Leaders

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.

Prayer:

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
commentary:
Set Your Mind On Things Above: Heavenly Living for Earthly Good (Colossians 3:1–16)

4 thoughts on “Ministry and Relationship: The Example of Paul

  1. I love reading what you write everyday. I spent 20 years as a leader in the Navy and though those days are long past, I still enjoy what you write and often say to myself “I wish I had had something like this to help me”. I still find you insights valuable even though my leadership roles are minimal. I enjoy forwarding them to friends whom I feel would find them beneficial.
    Blessings on you and your staff. You serve a great need.

  2. Guy Troup says:

    Like Margaret, I also highly appreciate your posts Mark. One of my passions is to be and to encourage other Christians to be salt and light in the workplace. Your devotions help me to think about my work in a Christian way. You are serving a much needed demand. Thank you!

  3. paul pierson says:

    Mark. I read your devotionals each day and find them very helpful. Thanks.Now, at 93, I try to find what God is calling me to do at this age. I have some iodeas; pray for the church, for Fuller, family members and friends, other ministries, and use whatever resources to support sministries. Any other ideas.
    Blessings, Paul Pierson

  4. Dr Gary Ford says:

    Thank you, Mark for your work and boldness in Christ…and at times we all feel alone…for me it was when I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and given 2-5 years to live…I lived life as much as I could for 3.5 years when God blessed me with a double lung transplant and now I am as good as before…but a lot closer to God than ever before…so as Rick Warren stated: “God will not waster an experience.” I started a support group immediately post transplant with 3 couples…now 3 years later there are over 22 couples in attendance..not that I can cure them of their disease…but I can give them hope…and that’s what your devotion does for me…give me hope. Thank you and keep up the good work, good sir.
    Blessings, Gary

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