Listening carefully

While I’ve beein gone this week, I’ve been studying through the first letter that Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his young protege in life and ministry. I’m seeing something new.

At the beginning of chapter three, he lists a bunch of characteristics that an overseer should have, in order to be qualified to shepherd, or look after, a church family.

(now for the record, I don’t really draw much distinction between the following words used in different translations of the Bible: elder, bishop, overseer, pastor, or minister.)

In verses 1-7, the "qualifications" are bookended by two characteristics. The overseer must be above reproach and an overseer must have a good reputation with outsiders, so he will not fall into disgrace.

Without becoming overly critical, the role and title of pastor or church leader has fallen on pretty hard times over the course of my lifetime. I hate that godly men (and women) have been reduced to characters in a sitcom or a comedy movie.

I have a total love-hate affair with one of my favorite movies of all time…The Princess Bride. There’s never a wedding ceremony that I’m not secretly expected to break into, “…Mawwage…”. It’s funny, and I laugh, but deep inside there is a subtle spiritual emasculation that has taken place. And it makes me sad.

Look. I’m still one of those guys that believes the Bible is God’s word…not just a book of spiritual platitudes, interspersed with the church’s version of Grimm’s fairy tales. I believe it’s living and active and the truth contained in it is powerful enough to change the hearts of men and women.

So as I’m reading this letter that old Paul wrote to young Timothy, I’m reading it in a personal way, like he’s writing it to me. There are some things I am doing well. But there are also some areas I recognize where I am neglecting my role as a shepherd of our church family.

You should be pleased to know that I’m seeing some places where I am falling short.

Maybe you should read Paul’s letters to Timothy, also. You might recognize where you’re falling short also.

At least it might make it easier when we compare notes.



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