In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.2 Timothy 4:1-3
Paul encouraged Timothy to be prepared in season and out of season. I’ve seen the importance of this in my own life.
There are moments when we do “in season” kind of ministry. We are the one asked to speak on Sunday morning or asked to lead a bible study. We are the one asked to pray for someone or answer a tough theological question. For the “in season” moments of ministry there is a process of preparation, creation, and execution/delivery. The moment is pre-planned and the expectations are established. These are the moments when you can be at your best and bring the best version of yourself and your gifting to the table.
However, the danger of these “in season” moments is that we can easily slip into using our own strength to accomplish the task rather than being dependent on the Lord. The secondary danger is that–especially for those with outgoing personalities–these are moments when we could be fake. With predetermined ministry moments where a person puts their best foot forward, there can be a temptation to be inauthentic.
This is why Paul wanted Timothy also to be ready in the “out of season” moments of ministry. These are spontaneous moments, unexpected moments when a ministry opportunity presents itself without warning. It could be someone asking for prayer at an unexpected time and place. It could be when the Holy Spirit spontaneously sends us to say something or do something that we hadn’t pre-planned. These “out of season” moments cannot be faked. They come from the overflow of our hearts. They come from the authentic place in our character that has been forged in the secret place with God.
This is why daily time with the Lord is so vital. Daily worship, prayer and scripture reading carve out room for the Presence of the Spirit to dwell with us intimately and continuously. When God’s Presence is always “near” and “at hand”(Matthew 3:2, 4:17; Mark 1:15) we can be ready to release the Kingdom at any time wherever we are. We don’t have to wait for a powerful moment in a Sunday worship service; we could be at work, at the grocery store, the coffee shop or the gym.
One reason these “out of season” moments are so powerful is because they are nearly impossible to fake. They communicate to the world that following Jesus isn’t about a show on Sunday but about daily life transformation born out of the grace of the gospel. People need to see the real, the authentic, the tangible power of the Kingdom on display in real life, or they will continue to surround themselves (their Facebook feed, their podcasts, their Twitter and Instagram) with teachers who just tell them what their itching ears want to hear rather than the truth of the Kingdom.