Our Lectio Divina for today:
Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. 1st Timothy 6: 10-12 (MsgB)
If you’ve just joined us, allow me to catch you up to speed. Our primary goal in this blog-series is to re-examine the two letters of Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy, hoping to re-discover a clearer definition of the pastoral ministry, this kalós, this precious treasure, Paul the older is attempting to transfer into his young apprentice.
Over the last three sessions, we investigated the contents of the core message Paul was attempting to download to Timothy. You might want to go back and review some of our thoughts, but suffice to say, in summary, that Paul seems to be encouraging his spiritual son to simply stick to the original script which focused exclusively on Jesus of Nazareth and the Master’s key role in just about everything God is doing here on planet earth. To make this easy for us, I guess I’d summarize Paul’s advice to Timothy this way:
Jesus of Nazareth: Son of God, Crucified, Died, Risen. God’s Plan A for Salvation, Reconciliation, and Redemption. Our Master and Savior. Both now and forevermore.
Today, we continue our blog-journey with Paul and Timothy by now focusing our attention (over the next six blogs) on what Paul defined as the core work of the kalós, this pastoral ministry he was passing onto Timothy. In other words, what key components, in Paul’s mind, makes up a full day’s work in the life of a Christ-centered pastor?
So, let’s start with our first component of our core work in Christ. And believe it or not, Paul’s assignment for Pastor Timothy is not geared toward ministering to others; but alas, it is all about taking care of himself!
Job One – Soul Care: Pursuing A Righteous Life.
As a pastor for over thirty years, I must readily admit to you that soul care, caring for my own soul, has always been on my radar screen, but rarely attended to. You see, most pastors are just way too busy doing ministry for Jesus, which leaves too little time in a day for spending time with Jesus!
Sadly, for me, it took a crisis of ministry, my church nearly disintegrating before my unbelieving eyes, to get my attention about taking time to care for my soul. The work I’m doing now with www.thecontemplativeactivist.com allows me to come alongside many other pastors who have sadly experienced similar circumstances. So, when Paul addresses this issue of soul care with Timothy, it just might be worth our effort to pay better attention here, guys and gals. Let’s look again at his strong words of encouragement:
Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.
Please note here, my pastoral friends, that there is not one word to Timothy about building a successful church, attracting more people into the sanctuary, taking up an offering for a big ministry project, raising up a quality leadership team to help us manage the ministry, or even going on an extensive mission trip in order to share Christ with a lost and dying world!
All these things come much later, and only if you and I can learn, as Paul states so clearly here, to first master our own personal walk with the Master!
So, here’s my suggestion today as we pursue this righteous life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness and courtesy. Let’s stop seeing the care of our soul as a luxurious option to be considered, but as the truest cornerstone to the Christ-centered work you and I have been called to perform. Let’s set aside our ministry goals for the moment, so that we might better listen and respond, once again, to Jesus’ core invitation to our dry and worn-out souls:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11: 28-30 MsgB
My prayer: Jesus, I hear Your invitation to the care of my soul, and I read Paul’s words that speak to Your invitation, but quite honestly, the tyranny of the urgent steals me away, making it appear that soul care is more of an option than a necessity. Father God, I choose to draw a line in the sand today and refuse to step out into my kalós, this pastoral ministry, without first and foremost caring for myself. Holy Spirit come, breathe into me Your fresh wind, so that I might learn Jesus’ unforced rhythms of grace. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, let’s be honest today. Where is soul care on my “to do” list? Is it Job One or is it so far down the list, I’ll be lucky if I get to it by the end of the month? What practical steps can I take today to pursue the righteous life Paul speaks of? Am I practicing God’s presence on a daily basis or simply telling others to do something I really don’t practice for myself?
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