Finding Your Pulpit in Unexpected Places

There seems to be more grandstanding, more pulpit pounding than ever before. Okay, we can blame social media, or the current cultural climate, but is it okay if we jump off the blame train for a minute, and chat about finding your pulpit in unexpected places? 

(I promise we won’t go deep enough to be painful. Maybe just reflect for a moment?)

During quiet times this spring and summer, the Lord sent me to some unexpected places scripturally and spiritually. Recently it was to the book of 2 Timothy. It’s not like I’d never read it before, but a passage seemed to almost jump off the page at me.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 RSV

Uh-oh! Did the Apostle Paul just say, “do the work of an evangelist?”. Yes, yes he did in the the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

“Evangelist” caught me off guard then knocked my sox off. Several Bible translations use the term “evangelist” in this passage from 2 Timothy. The Message uses “God’s servant” and The Good News translation uses “servant of God”. Are those more palatable?

Better yet, how about a definition from Merriam Webster, “an enthusiastic advocate.” There we go! Don’t most of us have something we are enthusiastic or passionate about that we love talking to others about? (Now, doesn’t that feel better?) 

Let’s move on to finding our pulpits in unexpected places, our places of sharing what we really care about. BTW many pulpits aren’t in churches or other places of worship.

I love writing to you, Dear Reader . . . alright, I love writing for and to anyone who will read my words. And like most writers, I’m an enthusiastic advocate about capturing the voice, the words, the message to the world in writing. (What a word nerd, right? “Wordsmith” sounds so much better.)

My writing pulpit is at Panera Bread with another writer. It’s in a book study group, in a classroom of fourth graders. It’s anywhere someone will chat with me.

What is your passion, Dear Reader? Have you found your unexpected place to share it? Or are you still trying to find your pulpit in an unexpected place?

But wait, finding your pulpit in unexpected places to “do the work of an evangelist” is only part of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and to us. 

Let’s look a little closer at just verse 5: 

As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.

Do you see that, Dear Reader? Paul encourages us to do four things:

  • always be steady;
  • endure suffering;
  • do the work; and 
  • fulfill your ministry

My second guessing, curious brain wonders if Paul meant  if we do the first three, we will fulfill our ministries.

Don’t go all modest or self-effacing on me, Dear Reader. EACH OF US HAS A MINISTRY. 

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Please don’t flinch when you read that, and glance back at “endure suffering.”  If any part of your life involves the care and nurturing of others, you know there is bound to be suffering along the way. It’s part of the job description.

It’s the same with our personal ministries that the Lord designed for us, whatever the ministry may be.

My unexpected pulpit has become our work with the Buddy Bag Project. The service and the work bless me outrageously, but everytime we visit City Union Mission, a dart pierces my spirit by reminding me of my brother, Buddy, who visited it before he died homeless.

Does that mean I’m going to forsake my ministry? No, it means I have to make a deliberate choice to endure whatever it involves. It also means continuing to to seek unexpected pulpits to demonstrate with words and actions the love and grace God freely gives to each of us. 

Tom and I are heading out on a new travel adventure. I wonder where God will lead me along the way to finding a pulpit in an unexpected place.

Where are you off to these days, Dear Reader? You just never know where you’ll find your unexpected place. 

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