The purpose statement of the apostle Paul’s ministry can be found in Colossians 1:28-29,
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“.
The ultimate goal of his ministry is to, “present everyone mature in Christ“. The means in which he would accomplish this purpose was to proclaim Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:5). This indicates the central theme of what he preached. He was not interested in promoting himself, or in announcing some new system of thought. Paul’s chief concern was to publicly “proclaim” the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul carried out this proclamation of Christ in two ways, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom“. Warning and teaching need to go hand in hand. One without the other is not useful and can lead to error in the Christian life. Warning without teaching can lead to a form of legalism, whereas teaching without warning can lead to fruitless Christianity.
If the gospel minister is going to fulfill all found in verse 28, he is going to need power. In verse 29 Paul reveals the power for ministry from both the human and the Divine side. The word “toil” means “to work to the point of weariness”. Many people are attracted to the ministry because they think that it is going to be easy. You can start whenever you want and the hours are great. Such a view of the ministry was foreign to Paul. Unlike many lazy pastors, he laboured in his serving. Paul not only worked to the point of weariness, he also struggled. This is an athletic term (the word “agonize” is derived from it). Ministry for Paul was hard work. He devoted himself to it with great seriousness and faithfulness.
Even though Paul put his all into the ministry, if that was the only enabling factor his ministry would be a waste of time. The ultimate enabling power for the minister is the Lord. Paul says that he laboured and strived, “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“. Paul’s philosophy of ministry ought to be the same for all pastors. By God’s help, it ought to be their goal to labour in the gospel in proclaiming Christ with the view of seeing His people become mature in Christ. Determined in duty and dependant on God for help.