Our Lectio Divina for today:
I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion. That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. 2nd Timothy 1: 4-7 (MsgB)
As we discussed last time, the relationship between Paul, the older pastor, and Timothy, the younger, is special indeed. These two servants of God worked hand-in-hand, for the cause of Christ, for approximately seventeen years (AD 50 – AD 67) until the time of Paul’s martyrdom in Rome. Throughout those years together, Paul and Timothy traveled thousands of miles, planting numerous church communities along the way, preaching and teaching the Good News of Jesus everywhere they went.
In Paul’s final passionate letter to Timothy, written from his jail cell in Rome, it’s obvious that the old apostle, who is now facing certain death, is reminiscing on all those wonderful years of working alongside each other. And, as I see it, it’s in the restating of those memories that you and I, as men and women of the cloth living here in the 21st century, can find two core truths surrounding our kalós, our unique calling to the pastoral ministry.
Let’s start here.
First, the pastoral call on Timothy’s life, “the special gift of ministry” that Paul refers to here in today’s passage, begins (and ends?) with Timothy’s “honest faith.” A basic faith in Christ that is “rich” (as Paul calls it here) and one that has been lived well and then passed onto him through the living witness found in both his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois.
Sometimes, in this world of professional ministry, where doing the work of pastoral ministry can so easily become associated with a job or profession, it’s truly important for you and me to go back into our personal histories with Jesus and realize that our call to ministry must always find its roots in our “honest and rich faith” in Christ. Too many times, I’ve seen pastors cut and run when the going gets rough, but it’s those who can return to their core faith in Jesus when all else fails who truly make it through the hardest times.
Secondly, Paul speaks of this “special gift of ministry” that Timothy received “when I laid hands on you and prayed.” My dear friends in pastoral ministry, know that this special call on your life is not something you simply thought of on your own. The call to pastoral ministry, first and foremost, comes from God, Himself, through the commissioning of both Jesus, the Master, and the work of the Holy Spirit. But this “special gift of ministry” also becomes manifest in our lives through the laying on of hands from others who believe in both you and the call upon your life.
You see, for Timothy, it was important for him to be reminded that his unique call to ministry was not something he had hoped for by himself; not something he dreamed up under his own power. The call of God to pastoral ministry is not something one reaches for out of their own initiative, but is an anointed commissioning from Christ, recognized by others around us who bear witness to this unique call on our lives. That’s why Paul is so bold in telling Timothy to “keep that ablaze,” making sure Timothy never forgets, nor underestimates the great worth of God’s gifts that have been bestowed on his life.
So, today, as we close, might I ask you, dear fellow pastor, are you keeping that “special gift of ministry,” that kalós, that precious treasure, planted so deep within you, ablaze today amid your hurried and busy life? Are you, like Timothy, being a bit “shy with God’s gifts,” hiding them under a basket, or holding back because of recent setbacks or failures you’ve suffered?
Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded of these encouraging words from the Master, Himself…
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14-16 NIV
My prayer: Father God, I find in Paul’s words a new sense of encouragement for me to not quit, not give up the unique call of pastoral ministry You first placed in me so very long ago. Jesus, help me recall and restore the sometimes-forgotten memories of how You first formed my faith in me and how You called me to serve You with my life. Today, Holy Spirit, help me to keep that work of God ablaze in me, walking faithfully in this “special gift of ministry,” with boldness, love, and sensibility. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: In what creative ways can I take some extra time today to go back in my history in order to recall and restore the honest and rich faith in God that first formed my earliest decisions for Christ? Might I revisit my unique call from the Master, recounting the details of that season when I felt the tug of Christ toward pastoral ministry? What will it look like today to keep this work ablaze?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14