In talking to pastors, I’ve been taking the angle that we should look again to the pastoral epistles to see how a senior mentor talks to a junior pastor. What is important? What are the dangers? What kind of encouragement is given to these folk who labor in difficult venues?
I am afraid we have used these letters to create doctrinal positions (e.g., who should lead the church, the nature of Scripture, etc.) but have forgotten the pastoral flavor of these little books.
Take a look at 1 Timothy. Here’s my brief summation of Paul’s letter to Timothy:
1. Remember. (ch. 1) Keep at your work in loving prideful and misguided people (who probably all think they should be the leader). Remember our humble origins and calling (v. 12). The goal here? Don’t shipwreck your faith.
2. Act (ch. 2-3) Your first act? Pray for everyone and pray for peace. Your second act? Live a holy life in keeping with the position. Out of this instruct your congregation to…
3. Be Wary (ch. 4-6) Deception is happening to other teachers. It can happen to you. So, live in truth and focus on godliness. There are 2 deceptions (financial gain (and fame) and knowledge). Some see both as a path to godliness but they are not. There is an antidote: Contentment! Seek only the glory of God and not your own.
You might ask yourself (and your pastor) these two questions.
1. If Paul were writing to you, what would he put in your letter for you to remember, act, and be wary of?
2. Who knows you and your situation well enough to write this kind of letter to you? If no one exists, why not? And what should you do about it?
Okay, that was more than 2 questions…go ask your pastor!