So, we’ve all heard the joke about pastors and how little they work, right? Supposedly, we only work one hour on Sunday mornings, so how hard of a job could this really be? For some reason, no one is quite sure what a pastor does with all the rest of his/her time. Pretty cushy job having to sit behind your desk and write a sermon once a week… make a few phone calls… maybe lead a Bible Study… and visit a few people in the hospital or homebound. And we all know there are benefits to making those homebound visits, like fresh cookies.
I share that because of what I read in 1 Timothy 3 today. Here’s what it says in verse one…
“It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile.” 1 Timothy 3:1 CEV
Most often when we read that verse, we don’t think much of it and we quickly go on to the next verses describing the qualities and character of this church official. I won’t take the time here to explain the in-depth meaning of word church official, but please understand it is someone who is in a place of spiritual leadership. The problem is we don’t fully understand what Paul is saying to Timothy or why Paul is saying this to Timothy.
So let me fill you in. This book of the Bible was written when Nero was the Emperor and he hated the Christians and persecuted them relentlessly. Leaders like James, Peter, and Paul himself would all be put to death by this guy. Think about it. About five years after Paul had written this to this young pastor, himself and two other spiritual leaders were put to death.
When we read this verse we might think of some of the big name pastors today or those who fill the auditoriums or sanctuaries of our churches. We might think of how good they have it and forget all about the spiritual leaders in non-Christian countries whose lives are on the line every day or those who were martyred.
A spiritual leader in Timothy’s day was in constant danger and faced the real threat of persecution and maybe even losing his life. They didn’t have the luxury of looking forward to speaking in front a packed house or have a book signing – they looked forward to hardship and constant struggle, laying everything down for the sake of the Gospel.
I’m reminded of what Jesus told His disciples…
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give His life to rescue many people.” Mark 10:43b-45 CEV
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Please remember to pray for your pastor. Lift him/her up that they lead with all their heart, mind, soul and spirit for the sake of the Gospel.
We have very little persecution here because of our faith. But others are laying down their lives for You. We lift them before You today and ask Your hand of protection and providence in their lives. Jesus, in Your name we ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen