What legacy do you want to craft?
What kind of legacy do you want to craft with your life? Have you thought much about that? We are building a legacies as parents, spouses, friends, neighbors, employees and as believers. Have you considered what kind of legacy you want to craft in ministry? Ministry is serving others in Christ’s name, and if you are a Christ-follower, you are crafting a ministry legacy right now.
If your church family wrote a letter and your name was mentioned, what might be said about you? What do you want your ministry legacy to be? As the Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the Colossian Church, he names a number of people who are his partners in ministry. They all play various roles in ministry, both big and small, but they were all crafting a legacy in ministry. We can learn some vital life lessons from them.
Six Vital Life Lessons from Paul’s Ministry Partners (Colossians 4:7-18)
Lesson #1 - Alone we may do a little, but together, we will be a force for Christ’s sake! All of the partners Paul mentions in this text might have been able to make some noise in the world for Christ and Christianity, but together, no doubt they could make a huge noise! We see this again and again in the early church. (Acts 17:6). The same is true for our church family; all of us working together, can make a huge impression and leave an indelible mark for Jesus Christ in our community!
Lesson #2 - No role is insignificant! (Tychicus - Colossians 4:7-8). Tychicus was an errand runner for Paul, personally delivering Paul’s letters to the churches while Paul was in prison in Rome. On the surface, his role may not seem like a big deal, but it was a huge deal! If Tychicus and others, who had similar responsibilities, had refused to deliver Paul’s epistles to the churches, a great portion of the New Testament may have been lost! The truth is, you may play what you think is a minor role in the Kingdom of God, working quietly and even behind the scenes; but your role matters! No job is too small, no role is inconsequential or insignificant for Christ’s sake!
Lesson #3 - Failure doesn’t mean you’re done! (Mark - Colossians 4:10). Mark had gotten off to a great start in his ministry, accompanying Barnabas and Paul on an exciting missionary journey; but for some reason, after they had been in Cyprus, Mark left them and went back home. Later, before a second mission, Paul and Barnabas considered taking Mark with them, but they had a sharp disagreement about that. (Acts 15:39). At that time, Paul did not want Mark to go because he had failed him in the past. But by the time this letter was written, Mark had redeemed himself and proved he could be counted on going forward. (2 Tim. 4:11)
The truth is, nobody is perfect. We all make poor decisions in life and sometimes we fail God and others. The question is not will you fail, but how will you respond to that failure? What lessons will you learn? Mark didn’t let his failure define him; he let it inspire him going forward! He proved he could be counted on and a valuable partner in ministry! Your failures don’t have to define you either; learn from them; let them inspire you to be a force for Christ’s sake going forward!
Lesson #4 When facing a critical crossroads in life, you can choose God’s way or the world’s way. (Demas - Colossians 4:14). When Paul wrote this letter, Demas appears to be a valuable partner in ministry, but somewhere along the line he makes a life-altering decision and turns his back on Paul and worse, God. His story is the opposite of Mark’s. Demas appears to have never really believed, choosing culture over Christ, the world over God. (2 Tim. 4:9-10; 1 Jn 2:15)
This world is alluring. It is imperative to fully surrender your life to Christ as Savior and Lord. (Jn 3:3; Matt. 13:22). Allow him to begin His transforming work in you! We all face critical crossroads in life; the most important is the choice to surrender our lives to Christ or not. Like Mark, we will face more crossroads, and sometimes we will make the wrong choice; that’s called sin. But if you are a believer, you won’t stay on that “sin” road or let that failure define you. You will let God use it to inspire you and transform you!
Lesson #5 - Fervent prayer for our church family is essential! (Epaphras -Colossians 4:12). Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian Church. He cared deeply for it and was “always wrestling in prayer” for his fellow believers that they would “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured!” Fervent prayer for our church family is something we can all do. Would you commit to pray for our church like Epaphras prayed for his?
Lesson #6 - Keep on keeping on in ministry! (Archippus - Colossians 4:17). We don’t know for sure why Paul told Archippus to “complete the ministry”, but most believe this was Paul simply encouraging him to keep on keeping on; to not give up! That seems like a simple message, but it is a very important message that we all need in ministry and life.
Life and ministry can be discouraging at times, no matter what role you play and sometimes you may even want to give up and throw in the towel. When you do, remember Paul’s words of encouragement to Archippus and keep on keeping on!
For much more, click here to listen to: Steadfast: Part 11 - Crafting a Legacy.