1 Tim. 3:1 (ESV)
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
I forgot to really comment on this one verse, getting bogged down in a lot of law with my last post. It dawned on me that I should though, comment on this one little verse. If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. A noble task indeed! As Bo Giertz asks in his novel “The hammer of God” can there be anything better than being a pastor in God’s church? I can’t remember what character it was that asked that, but it was Bo Giertz asking that rhetorical question. What a wonderful job it is too make a living preaching the gospel, caring for the Good Shepherd’s sheep. There is nothing more noble in this world than the gospel. So the task of bishop (overseer) is phenomenally noble, because it concerns itself with nothing else but the gospel.
I had a man ask the other day, how do you know if you are called to this office. I answered that you have call documents in your hand. You know you are called when a congregation calls you. Many think they are called, by which they mean some sort of desire, aspiration. The call is not a mystical experience. But the desire for the office often fills a man with the closest thing to a warm fuzzy I have ever had. Once I decided that, yes, this was something I desired, I put blinders on in pursuit. I’ve been in the office, the amt, for five years now. To this day I wake up desiring this noble task.
Burnout puzzles me. God forbid I ever have it. Sometimes I wonder how this happens. The only thing I can think is they have lost focus. Somewhere along the line the menial chores of the human occupation have choked out the joy of this spiritual office. In Acts six the disciples were on the verge of burn out. They parceled the tasks out to others. They devoted themselves to prayer and the word. Today it seems the opposite. There are pastors out there that don’t spend anytime in prayer and word. Or they think sermon prep, qualifies. The sheep spend more time in prayer and the word than the shepherd! The pastor is too busy chasing appointments. They need to learn to schedule prayer, devotion, and study. I refuse to give my time up in these things. I get asked where I find time for it. Well, I make time for it. It is my job! It is the primary task I have! I can’t help others if I don’t do this myself. They need the word. I can’t give it to them if I don’t know it. It helps that I am blessed with a smaller congregation. I work hard to help it grow with God’s word.
I even had a pastor snidely remark to me over the phone once, that it must be nice to have the time to do great theologian things having a small congregation. (And I mean snidely, had we been face to face we might have found out how self controlled I am.) Well it isn’t my fault he sold out for a larger congregation. But does he think he is doing that large congregation any favors being bogged down with committee meetings? Not that taking a larger congregation is a bad thing. He might have though thought about that before he took one on. And quite frankly, if your congregation is too big for you to devote time to prayer and devotion, you are doing something wrong, or your congregation is just too big. No congregation should be so big that a pastor can’t do his job, which is devoting himself to prayer and word. And when you spend your time there, I think it hard to burn out.