4 Habits of Highly Effective Followers of Christ
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Do you ever feel ineffective in your walk with God? If we’re honest, we’ve all encountered feelings of inadequacy in our attempts to live for Christ. What does Scripture share to help?
As the apostle Paul faced the final weeks before his death, he wrote his last New Testament letter to his friend and protégé, Timothy. The letter of 2 Timothy touches on many topics, yet its closing chapter emphasizes a strong series of commands relevant to followers of Christ today.
Habit 1: Stay Focused
Our four habits are found in 2 Timothy 4:5: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” The first habit Paul notes is to stay focused.
Paul begins his plea by instructing Timothy to “keep your head” in all situations. What does this mean? The original context includes not losing control. The emphasis on Timothy’s “head” refers to his mind or attitude. Timothy was a young pastor of an influential church in a major city. He could not be found losing his temper or showing a lack of self-control.
Such a habit is easier said than done. Paul offers ways to stay focused throughout 2 Timothy to help. Some of these include:
- Remembering the faith of his mother and grandmother (1:5)
- Focus on his strengths and God-given gifts (1:6)
- Rely on God’s Spirit (1:14)
- Study God’s Word diligently (2:15)
Timothy needed more than his own strength to stay focused, just as we do. We require God’s people, God’s gifts, God’s Spirit, and God’s Word to empower us to remain engaged in our spiritual lives.
Habit 2: Stand Firm
2 Timothy 4:5 also informs Timothy to “endure hardship.” Some of the misguided teachers of his time, like today, probably taught those who had “enough faith” would receive blessings of wealth and good health. Yet Paul was clear “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Today, there are many voices both inside and outside of the church that seek to persuade us toward selfish pursuits. However, we must also prepare to endure the inevitable problems we face in life according to God’s ways. He calls us to stand firm in such times, relying on His strength, rather than running from His ways and relying on our own power.
Habit 3: Share Christ
Paul’s third note in 2 Timothy 4:5 is to “do the work of an evangelist.” Timothy was a young pastor, but not necessarily an evangelist. However, every follower of Jesus is called to share the good news with others. Some are certainly more gifted at communicating the gospel than others, but we all have a part in helping people experience the joy of new life in Christ.
Here are some simple ways you can discuss your faith that you may not have considered:
- Ask someone their spiritual story and then share yours.
- Ask someone, “I’m practicing how I share my faith. Could I try practicing with you so you can give me some feedback?”
- Share a card or even a text message with an encouraging Bible verse. If the person comments, use the opportunity to talk more about your faith.
- Invite a friend to a Christian event outside of church where a person will hear the gospel, such as a concert or faith-based film, and then talk afterwards.
Habit 4: Serve Faithfully
Paul’s final note in 2 Timothy 4:5 is to “discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Like Timothy, we each have a calling. We are not to run from it or neglect it, but rather serve God faithfully.
In Paul’s life, he turned to faith in Jesus after years of hypocrisy and even persecution of the early followers of Jesus. Yet after embracing faith in the risen Christ, he radically changed into a person who faithfully served despite opposition. He later wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
What about you? Are you focused in your walk with God, standing firm, sharing Christ, and serving faithfully? We can all improve in our daily habits regardless of how well we are already doing. Choose one habit to further develop today.
For example, if your area to improve is sharing Christ, pray for an opportunity to talk with one person today and actively seek spiritual conversations. If you’re struggling to stay focused, consider talking with a friend to help in an area of accountability and commit to meeting together on a weekly basis.
Habits do not happen in a day; they happen daily. Start now, seeking to fully live for God in every area of life.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.