For those not in the limelight
In 1937, the Academy Awards began giving out an award for “Best Supporting Actor” in movies. This recognition was given in honor of an actor who had delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting role. Having a supporting role meant that the actor wasn’t the main character of the story; however, he held an important role in the movement of the plot and/or the development of the lead character.
Paul certainly was the main character and lead preacher of the gospel in the first century. He authored approximately half of the New Testament and was the focal character throughout most of the book of Acts. However, Paul rarely traveled by himself. Other believers traveled with him and on behalf of him to evanglize the known world. Some people would help for a short time, others for longer periods. Some, like Timothy and Titus, became his protégés…while others held varying roles within to the ministry.
Based on the number of times he’s mentioned and the type of work he’s given, Tychicus was one of Paul’s best supporting ministers. Tychicus was Paul’s personal letter-bearer for the New Testament letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae. Tychicus was also likely the one who delievered Paul’s letter to Philemon.
However, Tychicus was more than just a mail carrier delievering letters. Take a look at how Paul described him – and his role – to the believers in Colossae:
Tychicus, a loved brother, a faithful servant, and a fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are, and so that he may encourage your hearts. He is with Onesimus, a faithful and loved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.
Paul’s words are very high praise. From these verses, we see that Tychicus was both trusted and up to the task at hand. In addition to delivering Paul’s messages, Tychicus was also ready to encourage their hearts. He was ready to be a surrogate minister when Paul couldn’t be there because he was in prision for preaching about Jesus.
In one of his last letters, Paul tells Titus that he would send either Artemas or Tychicus to give Titus a break from his ministry overseeing all the churches on the island of Crete. That would have been a significant task, one that Paul would not entrust to just anyone.
However, the Bible doesn’t record Tychicus’ encouraging words to the Colossian believers. We don’t know if he went to Crete, or if Artemas went instead. Tychicus’ job in Paul’s ministry wasn’t to do big enough things that he would be recognized in Scripture. Instead, Tychicus found a purpose for his God-given talents while being the best supporting minister for the Apostle Paul. From Paul’s words, we see that Tychicus did well in his role.
It helps us to have this kind of reminder – that we don’t have to be a main character in the Bible to have an impact for God in other peoples’ lives. Although everyone that comes to your local church knows who the lead pastor is, or who the worship leader is…God knows where our talents are best suited and most profitable for the advancement of His kingdom. It’s not just the “upfront” leaders that will be rewarded by God, either. God has promised a rich reward in Heaven for those who do well in supporting roles also.