“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11)
All Christians are called to use the gifts that God has given them for works of ministry. We might not all preach on Sundays, but we are all ministers. There are many instances in which Christians fail in carrying out their ministries. Perhaps your failure is from a loss of will, shame due to sin or maybe even discouragement because of criticism from others. Whatever the case, failure often results in questioning our usefulness for future works of ministry. If what I have described above has been your experience, be encouraged.
“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” As Paul wrote his last letter before his death, one of the requests he made of Timothy was to come and see him, and to bring Mark with him. Paul viewed Mark as useful, both personally and in ministry. This is a much different view than Paul had some years earlier as he prepared for his second missionary journey. As the apostle Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey, Mark went along to assist them. Mark knew most of the apostles, and he and Barnabas were cousins. He seemed a perfect fit to join the team. Well, maybe not. For some reason, not explained in the biblical account, Mark left and returned to Jerusalem. What is explained is that as Paul and Barnabas prepared to set out on their second missionary journey, Barnabas’s suggestion that Mark accompany them was met with sharp resistance from Paul. Paul considered Mark a deserter for leaving them during the previous journey. Their disagreement was so strong that it led to them going their separate ways with different people; Barnabas took Mark with him while Paul was joined by Silas. Whether Paul or Barnabas was right in their dispute, Scripture doesn’t say, but what it does make clear is that though Mark may have failed early in his ministry, he was found more than useful in the long term. The time with Barnabas must have been a time of growth and healing for Mark. Even before this final letter of Paul’s life, he had seen Mark as a useful partner and “fellow worker” for the gospel (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24).
Do not let the title Grace In An Unlikely Place mislead you. Grace doesn’t hide from us in God’s Word as all of Scripture is a testimony to God’s grace. The title is meant as encouragement to look for grace where you may not expect it. Mark’s testimony is of a ministry redeemed. After past failure, he was used immensely by God, including writing the gospel that bears his name. Additionally, in God’s providence, this early ministry failure created two missionary teams as opposed to just one. This is how ministry always works; under God’s providential hand and always in His timing. Our role is submission to His leading. I hope Mark’s story encourages you as you minister. I hope that it also encourages you in knowing that if you fail, lose your will or doubt, the Lord is never done with you. Just as in the case of Mark, these things can be used to better prepare you for future ministry. If that happens, your ministry will be used in just the same way as Mark’s, for God’s glory.
Father God, thank you for the grace that is found all throughout your Word. Thank you that I can see an example of that grace in the life of Mark. Through the testimony of your Word, we can be encouraged that failure doesn’t have to end our useful service to the gospel. Help me to stay close to you Father and to rely on you each day to do what you have called me to do. Amen!