Jump Start # 2837
Jump Start # 2837
1 Timothy 3:1 “It is a trustworthy statement; if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”
Our verse today has two interesting words that are very familiar with each other. The words are: “aspire,” and, “desire.” We use the concept of desire much more than “aspire.” Where do you want to go eat, we ask. In essence, what do you desire to eat, is what we are asking. Where do you want to go on vacation? What destination do you desire? Even at graduation, that idea is brought up. What college are you going to? What field of study are you looking at? What do you want to do after high school? All of those revolve around the idea of desire. What is it that you want?
I was with some people the other day and the discussion turned to Bucket Lists. Where do you want to visit before you die. Several at our table suggested Australia. That was at the top of their bucket list. It’s fun to make lists like that.
But here in our verse, the want list, the desires were not about food, vacations or bucket lists. It was about serving in the kingdom of God. It was about work. It was about helping people and leading people to the Lord. Aspiring to the office of an overseer…desiring a work—kingdom work is what Paul had in mind.
Now some thoughts:
First, this is a work. It’s a lot of work. It’s working with people and people can often be messy. We can sure get things tangled up in our marriages, our attitudes and our walk with the Lord. Straightening those things out takes love, patience and the word of God. The work of overseeing and shepherding is just that, work. It’s not about control. It’s not about power. It’s not about being in charge. It’s not about running the church. Anyone who has those ideas, needs to sit on the sidelines with this Bible for a while. He’s got the wrong idea. He’ll make a boss, but not a shepherd. He may bark orders, but not lead people. And, anyone who has the idea that this work is a cake walk, truly doesn’t understand human nature, nor the concept of shepherding.
Second, this is a fine work. In fact, it’s one of the greatest works. This is about changing lives and destinies. It is about redirecting family trees toward the Lord. The Lord does the work. The Lord does the saving. The Lord does the changing. The shepherd is merely the instrument. The credit is all the Lord. Much too often, horror stories are told about this spiritual work. And, even more often, criticism and potshots are taken at godly leaders for doing just that, leading in a godly way. And, through that a negative taste comes to the minds of many. But to the Lord, this is a fine work. This is a beautiful work. This is keeping God’s people close to the Lord.
Third, why would anyone want to do this? If it’s not about power and it’s not about running things, why aspire? Why would anyone desire this work? For most, it’s all volunteer. For most, it’s thankless. For most, it is long hours, lots of prayers and lots of conversations. So, why do it? Why would anyone aspire to this? It can sound like a hitch in the army. Do your time and get out while you can, is what I’ve heard many former military people tell me. But I’ve known men who served as shepherds for decades upon decades. And, this pandemic has been one of the most difficult strains that elderships have gone through. What is the right decision? So many guidelines. So many opinions. So many factors to factor. Some brethren haven’t done well through this. Some have allowed the isolation and pandemic to smother their faith. Some have not had the best attitudes. Some have chosen to leave. And, through this godly leaders where trying to keep everyone moving forward. It’s been very, very hard.
So, why would anyone want to do this? This is how our verse is framed. There were men then and there are men today who aspire and desire this work. Why? What’s in it for them? What do they get? Will there be more jewels in their crown? Will they get a closer spot to see the Lord? No, none of those things, even if they did exist. It’s not about what do I get. That’s far too American and far too selfish.
Why desire? Why aspire? Because they love the Lord. They love the Lord’s people. They recognize that they have a talent from the Lord and they want to use that to honor Him. They want to guide people and help people. It’s not about power, control or being in charge. It’s loving people so much that one wants to help them. It’s people who are already involved with people. They have been teaching, influencing and helping. They love the kingdom and they want to see people thrive spiritually.
That’s it. Nothing vain. Nothing material. No ego stroking. Just helping God’s people stay the course and encouraging them to walk ever closer to the Lord. Shepherding is like being a parent. You want the best from those kids. You do all you can to help them. You pour hours and hours into them to guide them and develop them. That’s shepherding. And, where would our congregations be today without these godly men guiding us?
Aspire. Desire. Dream. Long. Want. Those thoughts need to be planted in the minds of teenage boys. The choices they make in their 20’s and 30’s may help fulfill those aspirations or those choices end those dreams. When God was looking for someone to help, Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.” That’s the spirit that we need today. It begins early. It starts in the home. Serving. Helping out. Going out of your way. That’s the story of the good Samaritan. That’s the life of Jesus. That’s the way our story ought to be.
Spiritual goals—we need to make them. We need to keep them. We need more who understand shepherding and who have the heart that says, “If not me, then who?”