Today’s sermon is about ministers.  In this section of Colossians, Paul is telling us why he became a minister.

Colossians 1:23  “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
It’s good to be a minister!

Three boys in the school yard were bragging about their fathers.
The first boy says, “My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50.”
The second boy says, “That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100.”
Third boy says, “I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!”

I love being a pastor.
There are several words I do NOT use to describe what I do:
Clergy – that creates 2 classes of Christians, paid clergy and the regular folks.
Reverend – that indicates that paid pastors are holier than others.
Minister – that creates an expectation that the pastors do the work and the people receive the blessings of their work.

All of these ideas are incorrect.

The word Paul uses to describe his relationship with the Colossian believers is the Greek word diakanos.  It is translated “minister” in the ESV and “servant” in NIV.  This is the
same word that is translated“deacon” in other passages.

When I was studying to be a pastor in my early twenties at Lancaster Bible College, church members and friends would frequently ask, Are you going into the ministry?

That question was sincere enough, and we all understand what it means.  But it reflects if at the least a subtle misunderstanding of the Christian life.  You see, we are all in the ministry!

Now, if we are speaking about the God given role of serving as a shepherd in the Lord’s church, well that is something that is a calling from the Lord and is to be honored.

I’ve learned much in 33 years
Things they Don’t teach you in Seminary
*Don’t mess with the Ladies Minsitry

*When you visit the hospital, don’t sit on the bed or discuss your operation.

*Leave your German shepherd at home when you go to the Sunday School picnic.

*Take your German shepherd when you go to the local ministerial association.

*Always remember to take the offering before the sermon.

*Don’t be late for wedding or funerals.

*When someone calls at 2 AM and asks if they woke you up, always say, “No I was praying”

*When people comment on your sermon as they’re going out the church door, don’t take them very seriously. (Very true)

*There are limits to participation in community life. You don’t need to prove yourself by taking part in the annual rodeo.

*Don’t mess with the Ladies Ministry

HERE in Colossians, PAUL talks very personally about HIS MINISTRY, and it gives us all insight into OUR ministries.

Paul uses a common word: SERVANT!

There are three primary ways that the Greek diakanos is used in the New Testament.
Most frequently, it means a servant – a person who serves others.
Diakanos can also mean minister/ ministry – with the focus on individuals who provide service to a group of people.
Finally, diakanos can mean a specific person in the church serving as a Deacon.  From Acts 6 we discover a group of leaders recognized by the church for their focused service to needy members in the church

Here are some examples of the 29 times that diakanos is used in NT
Disciples = servants.  Matt 20:26 whoever would be great among you must be your servant, (Matt 23:11; Mark 9:35; 10:43)
Phoebe Rom 16:1  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,
Paul and Apollos, servants.  1 Cor 3:5
2 Cor 3:6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant,
Paul Eph 3:7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
Tychichus.  Col 4:7 (and Eph 6:21)  Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
Paul and Timothy Phil 1:1  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus
Epaphras.  Col 1:7  Epaphras …a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Deacons.  1 Tim 3:8; 3:12  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
Timothy: 1  Tim 4:6      If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus,

Disciples are ministers (servants, deaconos)
Men are ministers
Women are ministers
Apostles are ministers
Pastors are ministers

In the BROAD use of the word, EVERY BELIEVER is a MINISTER!

Let’s examine why Paul describes himself in this way, and the things that we can all learn about serving others in the church.

I am a SERVANT because the Gospel REQUIRES me.  1:24 In my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the body…..
The Church needs ministers!
Paul’s SUFFERINGS advanced the Gospel message!

Christ’s death is the only means for SALVATION
Jesus cried “It is FINISHED!”  John 19:30
Hebrews 1:3  “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

But God has chosen to use US as the instruments to bring this message of reconciliation.   2 Corinthians 5:19  “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

The word “afflictions” is never used of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross, but instead refers to the “pressures” of life that Paul endured. Christ suffered in death to save the church, and now Paul suffered in life to spare it.  Brian Bill, “Discovering Your Purpose”

The Church at Colossae NEEDED what Paul provided to them through his human effort and suffering.

I am a SERVANT because the Gospel is ENTRUSTED to Me.  1:25 “of which I because a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you…..”
The word stewardship = economy.  “Dispensation”
We are servants because this is how God has decided to do it.

I am a SERVANT because the Gospel is RESIDES in Me.  1:26-27 Christ in you, the hope of Glory
Paul’s SERVICE and SUFFERING resulted in the salvation of GENTILES
Christ RESIDES in his Church!

I am a SERVANT because the Gospel Brings People to Spiritual Maturity.  1:28 that we may present everyone mature in Christ
Paul writes, For this reason I “toil” –
The word means “wearisome toil, as used in 1 Cor 15:58 “your labor is not in vain in the Lord..”
It is the Greek word agonidzomai and is used to describe an athlete in the arena.

I am a SERVANT because the Gospel Magnifies Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:2–3  “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, ” “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

If there ever comes a time when being a full time “pastor” is impossible or illegal, I will still continue to preach, because that is what God has called me to do.

What about you?  What has God called you to do?
Are you “in the ministry?”