Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2)

My son’s first word was no. He was one year old, too mobile for his own good, and loved to bang toys against every surface in our apartment. My husband and I constantly told him no. When no became his first word, we decided to reevaluate our parenting. Clearly it was important that he not poke his finger into a wall socket, but he also needed instruction of a different sort—encouragement. And if we wanted him to see more yes in the world than no, we needed to practice patience.

According to Paul, preaching, like parenting, doesn’t have easy, one-word answers. We need to offer correction and encouragement to those we love; and we must always temper such offerings with patience and forethought. The gospel message is more complicated than we often think, and so are the people who need it most. The best way to confront this complexity isn’t to pretend it doesn’t exist, reducing Christ’s message of hope to a simple yes or no instruction. Instead, we must familiarize ourselves with the deep complexity of the Word we preach—and always recognize our own shortcomings in preaching it.

Reading the Bible regularly is the best way to learn about God’s Word, and remembering that preaching requires patience, careful thought, and both correction and encouragement will help us become better messengers of the gospel.

Consider one friend who could use encouragement or correction, according to Scripture.

Lindsey Priest is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate and lives in Arkansas with her husband and two sons. She likes to read to the kids, play video games with her husband, and refurbish furniture.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.