An Ordination Charge to God’s Man

Title: An Ordination Charge to God's Man

Bible Book: 2 Timothy 4 : 1-8

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Ordination of the Preacher; Faithfulness of the Preacher


[Editor's Note: This is a message delivered during the ordination of a Southern Baptist pastor. The comments here do not represent all that was shared but hopefully they can help the preacher who is given the responsibility to charge a pastor during an ordination service.]

The call of God is one of the most important issues in the Christian church and Christian life. God-called pastors are a necessity for the well being of a local congregation. As we come to this ordination service, we rejoice with our brother in his call from the Lord and with the church he has been called to serve.

Tonight I am presenting a charge to (name here). In essence, I am preaching to just one man. I am reminded of a church up in the country in North Carolina. A heavy snow fell on Saturday evening and Sunday morning dawned with several inches of the white stuff covering the ground. The preacher wasn’t sure anyone would show up for worship, but he faithfully made his way to the church. When he arrived, he found only one man present. Thankfully, it was the one man the preacher had been trying to reach with God’s message.

The pastor stood that day and preached to just one man. He preached everything he felt the Lord had been trying to say to that man. He went on for at least 45 minutes with his message. Finally, when the service was over, the pastor stood at the church door and greeted the man as he was departing. The young pastor asked, “Well, Mr. Brown, what did you think of that message?” The farmer rubbed his chin and answered, “Well, pastor, the message was okay, but I do have a complaint. If I don’t have but one cow show up at the barn at feeding time, I don’t drop the entire load of hay on him!”

Tonight, I must drop the whole load of hay on this dear brother. The charge I’m going to share comes from God’s Word – 2 Timothy 4:1-8. (Read the passage) Paul was in prison at the time he wrote these words, and he knew his time on earth was short. He was writing to Timothy, a young man in God’s work. Let’s look at what the Lord prompted Paul to say to Timothy.

I. The Nobility in Timothy’s Position

2 Timothy 4:1 states, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom..."  Paul reminded Timothy of the noble standing held by the man of God. Paul stated that he (Paul) was standing in the presence of God and Christ Jesus as he gave this charge to Timothy. It wasn’t that Paul was noble, but he was standing in the presence of the Holy God when he delivered his message. Every man who serves the Lord faithfully in preaching His Word, is standing in the presence of the Lord!

Dear brother, as we ordain you tonight, let me remind you that your ministry is to the Lord and you have been called to a noble place of service. Indeed, this is amazing! God calls ordinary sinners, saved by grace, to represent Him and to deliver His message. 

In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul shares this thought in yet another way. He says, “It is as if God is making His appeal through us.” He also shares, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” How marvelous it is to be called to serve Him. But, always remember, this isn’t about you. You weren’t called because you are elite or better than others. You were called because God chose to use you. He stands with you as you serve and if He doesn't, you will utterly fail. Never forget this! You aren’t noble, but you are in a noble position of service and you must act accordingly.

An ambassador for the United States government is expected to represent our country, to speak only what is best for our country and to act in accordance with the interest of our country. Likewise, you are to represent the Lord Jesus Christ, to do only what is best for Him and to represent Him in a noble manner. You are not just speaking for Him, He is speaking through you!

II. The Responsibility in Timothy’s Preaching

"...Preach the Word..."

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul tells the young preacher that he is to “preach the Word.” Indeed, what else is there to preach? We do not preach our opinions. We do not preach to elevate ourselves. We do not preach to enrich ourselves. We preach to honor the Lord and His kingdom.

Note that Paul mentions three specific things Timothy’s preaching is to include.

A. Rebuke

The word “rebuke” is often used when one encounters the evil one – the devil. We are not the enemy of the sinner, nor is the sinner an enemy to us. The devil is the enemy and we must preach in a way that rebukes his work in the lives of sinners and saints.

When Jesus told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to die, Peter spoke up and said he would prevent that from happening. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Wow! Jesus was rebuking the work of the devil in Peter’s life. It wasn't so much a rebuke of Peter as it was a rebuke of the evil one. Jesus knew that Peter was not the enemy - Satan was the enemy. We must always remember this truth.

When Jesus confronted the man with a legion of demons, He did not speak evil words to the man, but He rebuked the demons. He cast them out of the man and into a herd of swine.

Brother, your job is not to make enemies of people who are doing wrong. Your job is to represent Christ and rebuke the evil one who is destroying their lives. Jesus did not beat up sinners, but He did defeat the devil at Calvary and the empty tomb.

B. Correct

Another word Paul used in this charge to Timothy was the word “correct”. The word means to show the right way. It is the preacher’s job to reveal the correct path in life and service. We must not favor any person when it comes to correcting wrong living. We must all be open to a word of correction when it is needed. A lot of that which Paul penned to the churches in his epistles was corrective in nature. That is your job as God’s man preaching God’s Word.

C. Encourage

There are many who have been beaten down in life. Sometimes people bring this on themselves and sometimes it is brought on them by others. The job of the preacher is to show the mercy and grace of God to all. We must help those who have failed to get back up on their feet to walk God’s path. Only the self-righteous hold their noses in the air with arrogance and pride. We must assist people with encouragement and love. After all, it was Jesus who told us that we are to love one another as He has first loved us. If time permitted, I could tell you many stories of people whom I observed in sin. I watched them come back to Jesus, find forgiveness and go on to be used of God in marvelous ways. Don’t kick a brother when he is down – help him (or her) get back on his feet to serve the living God.

III. The Dependability in Timothy’s Persistence

" season and out of season..."

Paul reminded Timothy that he was to preach the Word by being prepared in season and out of season. Believe me, it is easy to preach God’s Word “in season”. When everything is going your way, the way is wonderful. But, trust me, the days will come when it will seem as if your ministry is “out of season”. You must not be discouraged.

Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I’m in, therein to be content.” That is a mouthful! You must be faithful when you don’t feel like it. You must be true in service and love Christ when your feelings are hurt, when you’re tired, and when you feel you are unappreciated. If you only serve when the sun is shining, you will have a fruitless and unfaithful ministry.

You and your wife may have a little tiff, your children may not walk in the path you advise for them, your finances may not be where you want them to be and your body chemistry will rise and fall like a yo-yo, but you must be faithful through it all. Like the soldier who carries on when wounded, you must go forward in season and out of season in the Lord's work.

Culture is rapidly changing in America, and that is the place where you will likely spend your entire ministry. You must be willing to preach God’s Word even when people are looking for someone to tell them only what they want to hear. Everywhere Paul went in the world, the gospel was “out of season,” but that did not keep Paul silent. Even in prison, he was constantly sharing the good news of Jesus and His offer of salvation to those who repent and believe. Some in Caesar's household came to faith in Christ. Guards who watched over Paul came to faith in Christ. Paul was serving "in season and out of season."

Some years ago, I was pastoring a church in North Carolina. We had been growing rapidly and baptisms were at an all-time high. It was exciting and our people were so committed and involved in ministry and evangelism. Then, I came upon a period of weeks when nothing was happening. No decisions were being made in worship. We were leading no one to Christ. This went on for some weeks and I was discouraged. I called my father, who lived a couple of hours away, on a Sunday night and complained to him about what I was experiencing.

My father said, “Son, you don’t know what God is doing. Some of the most important decisions I ever made in my Christin life, I made while standing and holding on to the back of a pew during an invitation. No one knew my decision but God.”

I replied, “Dad, you don’t know what I’m talking about.” I continued to whine for a few minutes and finally we hung up the call.

The next morning I finished a live radio broadcast, which I did five days a week for our church, and the phone in my office rang. The secretary said that a lady wanted to talk to me on the phone, so I took the call and heard a story that surprised me totally.

The lady said, “Pastor, I must tell you what happened last night. I brought a lady friend to church with me. She has attempted suicide in the past and has been depressed for several years. She has been to psychiatrists and counselors but nothing helped her. I’ve tried to get her to come to church with me but she always refused. Last night she agreed to attend with me. After the service, we got into my car and she suddenly broke down crying. I asked if she was alright and she said, ‘Actually, I’m better right now than I have been in years.’ She went on to tell me that she had experienced a renewal of her faith in the worship service. I figured it was just an emotional moment, but then she called me this morning and said, ‘I’m drinking my coffee on the porch and I love life.’ Pastor, she is different. Her voice is different. She told me that she has renewed her committed to Christ and that is what she has been missing for years. I just thought you ought to know about.”

After we hung up the phone, I wept and asked God to forgive me. You see, I’d been looking for visible results rather than trusting God. I later apologized to my father for my complaining. Things in our church returned to the growth and excitement we had known before, but I promised God that I would never doubt Him again during those "out of season" moments. Trust me, brother, God is working even when you can’t see it. Serve Him with joy, in season and out of season!

IV. The Accountability in Timothy’s Pledge

Note in 2 Timothy 4:5-8, "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Paul shared the fact that he and all of us who serve Him must one day give account for our ministry. Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (NJKV).”

One day you will come to the end of your ministry. Hopefully, if our Lord tarries His coming, it will be many years from now. Be assured of this, you will give an account to Him. Fight the good fight. Finish the race with honor. Keep the faith. If you do that, you will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” What can be better than that?

Tonight, and certainly before this night, you have made a pledge and promise to God to answer and obey His call. Now, it is up to you to keep that pledge. "No turning back!" Be true to the end. And, when you fail, get on your knees before Him and renew your commitment. He doesn't expect you to be perfect, but He does expect you to be faithful. He doesn't expect you to produce results, but He does expect you to be standing in your calling till He calls you home. Keep your pledge to Him, for He will never renege on His pledge to you.


My brother, stand in the NOBILITY of your position, proclaim with RESPONSIBILITY in your preaching, serve with DEPENDABILITY in your persistence and remember the ACCOUNTABILITY in your promise and pledge to God. Do these things, and you will be God’s faithful servant till you come to the end of your ministry on this earth for your Lord.

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