“Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.” Colossians 4:7-15
There’s a joke that goes around in the church life, especially if you’ve ever spent time on staff.
“Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people.”
We laugh because people can be problems and people have problems. But ministry is just a fancy-pants word that means “service.” If there are no people, there is no one to serve.
Pastor Brian Wood used to say:
“Ministry is people.”
He is right.
People come and people go. I’ve been serving since 1996 and I’ve seen almost all there is to see. People who you thought were faithful have left like Demas. People who you had no confidence in like Mark (Acts 15:37-39) became invaluable (2 Timothy 4:11).
We know the “who” of ministry: Christ and His Church.
But what about the “what” of ministry?
Arguably, we could say we minister Christ to people. And we do. But what does that mean?
It means we have a gift. We use that gift for the development and building up of His Church.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8
Whatever calling, ministry, or service you have, you will also be given a team. Paul was giving his team a shoutout in this greeting. Paul also recognized them by name: Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus called Justus, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas.
Not only did he recognize his team by name (and this wasn’t the only time see Romans 16 for a comparable example) but he mentioned their giftings. It was a public acknowledgement of their leadership. They may be a “faithful minister,” “faithful brother,” a “fellow prisoner,” someone who should be welcomed, or a prayer warrior.
They were real people. They were part of Paul’s ministry. They were part of Paul’s service to the church at Colosse.
You have people within your team that need encouragement, exhortation, and love in order to equip and enable your team as a whole to serve the body of Christ and one another.
It’s important to also include them, pray for them, and acknowledge them.
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- Do you know what your ministry is? Do you think about your team?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
- Romans 12
- Ephesians 4:11-16
- Romans 16