Our Lectio Divina for today:
Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. 2nd Timothy 2: 14-15 (MsgB)
As I see it, when we find the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy (2nd Timothy 1: 13-14), commanding his young apprentice to do everything in his power to guard and protect the kalós, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into Timothy by the work of the Holy Spirit…it has my attention.
How about you?
And when Paul goes on, as found here in today’s passage, stating clearly for Timothy to “repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people…laying out the truth plain and simple,” it makes an old pastoral shepherd like myself ask a few burning questions…
“So, what exactly, Paul, are the basic essentials of this kalós ministry you’re calling us to guard? What are these plain and simple truths you want your co-worker, Timothy, to repeat again and again?”
Keep in mind that Paul’s letters, these epistles we now call books of the New Testament, were written not as holy scripture, but as simple words of encouragement from a caring pastoral shepherd who dearly wanted to be with his friends and comrades, but could not because of limitations far beyond his control. In truth, if Paul had his way, he would have never written letters but would have simply traveled to these destinations, giving his wise counsel and advice in person rather than by letter.
Fortunately for later generations, like us, who have been blessed through these written words, God chose to confine Paul, the world traveler, forcing him to write out his thoughts instead of speaking all these wise things in person!
So, here we are, pastors and church leaders of the twenty-first century, two thousand years closer to that Day of Christ’s return than Paul and Timothy were, and we have two options before us. We can be wildly creative in the ways we present God’s ancient truth, making up entertaining stories and exciting possibilities that might tickle the ears of our people, or, hopefully, we’ll dig deeper into these core messages given us from the first-century church, making certain we are being faithfully consistent with the heart of the Gospel message, as Paul and other first-century men and women practiced it.
Which will we choose?
As we come nearer to the close of this 26-session blog series; this pursuit of kalós; I think it wise to summarize, once again, what we’ve discovered thus far. I’ll place it here as succinctly as I can:
Kalós: Our Core Message:
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.
Kalós: Our Core Work:
- Soul Care: The core work of stewarding one’s own walk with Jesus through the proper care of our soul.
- Prayer: The core work of bringing all things to God, through Christ, using the ancient gift of prayer.
- Gentle Listening: The core work of caring for others through the fine art of spiritual direction, asking great questions followed by the grace to be a gentle listener.
- Life-Giving Words & Works: The core work of offering both Christ-centered words and works that give life-giving hope to those we are called to serve.
- Faithful Generosity: The core work of freely and faithfully giving away every good thing the Master has given us.
- Simple Love: After all these things, the core work Jesus calls us to is to simply love; for it is faith, hope, and love that, in the end, truly reflects the heart of the Master.
I readily admit to you, dear pastoral friend, that these words I’ve written here are mine alone, and they represent my thoughts on the subject. I realize that you might re-word or re-phrase what I’ve said, based on your readings of these ancient texts, but might I suggest, with time being as short as it is, that rather than bickering over the language, nitpicking as Paul says here in today’s text, let’s go ahead, roll up our sleeves and get to work on this kalós, this precious treasure, acting on it as best we know how? And then, after a few years of doing just these basics, as we’ve laid out here, we can come back to the table and discuss a bit more how it seems to be going?
My prayer: Jesus, as Paul states in his encouragement to Timothy, it’s vitally important for me to 1) concentrate on doing my best for God, 2) do work I won’t be ashamed of, and 3) lay out the truth plain and simple. Holy Spirit, indwell me and empower me to keep to these basic essentials, repeating them over and over again. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, what aspects of my current work in pastoral ministry need to be reduced or eliminated, so that I may spend more time, effort, and resources focusing exclusively on these kalós essentials found in Paul’s letters to Timothy? Going forward, what creative tools might assist me as I stick to Paul’s script, repeating again and again, for God’s people, these essential kalós truths?
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