DALLAS Juan Sanchez, pastor of Austin’s High Pointe Baptist Church and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, issued a Texas welcome and delivered the opening sermon of the 2018 Pastors’ Conference, speaking on 2 Timothy 4:9-22, calling the final lessons of the apostle Paul especially applicable to pastors.
“Paul is writing his last letter and he has come to the end of his life and his ministry,” Sanchez said, referencing 2 Timothy 4:7-8, read earlier by conference president H.B. Charles, Jr. Sanchez reminded the audience that the conference theme, “Fulfill Your Ministry,” was also the heart of Paul’s parting advice to Timothy.
Paul “exposes” needs, concerns, and confidence at the end of his life, Sanchez proclaimed, calling the apostle’s message appropriate for pastors in all stages of ministry.
“What will our ministry look like when it is fulfilled…when we come to the end of our ministry?” Sanchez asked the crowd, urging them to consider their needs, concerns and source of confidence.
Sanchez mentioned several needs outlined by Paul in the passage, including physical needs such as the apostle’s desire for a cloak.
Sometimes we forget God has made us “whole persons”: body, spirit and soul, Sanchez continued, emphasizing the need for care of the physical self.
Paul’s other need was for “deeply-rooted gospel friendships,” Sanchez said, noting the apostle’s urging of Timothy to “come soon” and specific mention of both faithful and faithless friends. He highlighted Paul’s response of forgiveness to those who turned against him: “May it not be charged against them,” reminiscent of the prayer of Stephen in Acts 7.
“We need to have thick skins and soft hearts,” Sanchez proclaimed, recommending forgiveness and grace toward critics and emphasizing the restoration of the relationship between John Mark and Paul.
“At the end of your life and ministry, who will you call on to be by your side?” Sanchez asked, admitting his prior failure at developing deep friendships and noting his current commitment to accountability “brothers.”
“We are not meant to be isolated. It is tragic if we are isolated. Connect,” Sanchez urged. “Look for others you can encourage,” he said, recommending networking among pastor friends.
“Paul’s heartbeat was for the continuation of the gospel ministry,” Sanchez said, likening Paul to a general directing the spread of the gospel even from prison.
“As pastors, we should be thinking how we can prepare others” for gospel ministry, Sanchez added.
Paul always remained a student of God’s Word, Sanchez said, reminding listeners to study Scripture: “We never finish our theological training and education.”
As Paul warned Timothy of opposition, Sanchez cautioned his audience to expect the same from within and outside the church. “Ministry is not easy,” he said, encouraging pastors to faithfully preach the Word and leave a “gospel legacy.”
Paul’s “ultimate confidence rested in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Sanchez continued, cautioning against placing “confidence in ourselves,” or in numbers, buildings or locations. He closed by encouraging pastors to not become discouraged but to remember the “eternal plan of God.”