The goal is to present yourself to God as one approved. God is the final, ultimate judge of the success or failure of your ministry. He is our target audience.
Note that Paul did not challenge Timothy to be better than anybody else. He says, “Do your best … ”
You don’t have to compare yourself with others, compete with others or come in ahead of others. Just give God your best — nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. If you give God your best, it will sustain you when the work is difficult, frustrating and tiresome. And you will be an approved workman.
God-pleasing ministry requires ministerial excellence.
As Christian workmen, we must be on guard against ministerial sloth.
Ministers often fail not because of a lack of giftedness, opportunity or resources. We fail many times because we are lazy about the things of God. Godly living, humble service, wise leadership, unconditional love, steadfast endurance, sound doctrine, intercessory prayer is hard work.
Paul exhorts Timothy to be “a worker who has no need to be ashamed.”
The concern is about shame before God, not man. You can be a smashing success with man and a horrible failure with God. You can be a famous minister and yet stand before the Lord and have to introduce yourself (Matt. 7:21-23). So live and teach as a workman that can present his finished work to God without shame.
God-pleasing ministry requires faithful exposition.
The pastor’s primary and central work is stated in 2 Timothy 4:2a: “Preach the word.” The imperative is all-important: “preach.” So is the object: “the word.”
We must not preach personal opinion, trendy theology, political viewpoints, motivational speeches, self-help advice, popular psychology or sociological theories. We are called to preach the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. To do this faithfully, we must be “rightly handing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15c).
God’s word is marked “Handle With Care.” The way you handle God’s word is the way God will handle you. Proverbs 30:5-6 says: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
So labor not to mishandle God’s word. Cut it straight. Don’t add to the word. Tell the truth on God! Fully give yourself to diligently explain and exhort the truth of scripture to the glory of God.