Our Lectio Divina for today:
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it. 1st Timothy 2: 1-3, 8-10 (MsgB)
After 30-plus years in pastoral ministry, I must readily confess that there have been numerous times throughout my three decades of pastoring when I have felt much like the poor guy on the stage (see picture above) who is attempting to set a new world’s record for spinning fine-china plates on small wooden stems.
Whoops, there goes another plate that I just couldn’t get to in time!
I fully realize that this overwhelming dread of never being good enough or fast enough to keep all my plates spinning is not a sensation unique to pastoral ministry. But as I talk with other pastors and church leaders in our busy, get-r-done world, it’s very apparent that most of us, from time to time, would love to step out of this hustle and bustle of our churches and find something more akin to the un-hurried lifestyle we see in Jesus, as He ministered to and with others.
And wouldn’t you know it?
Just as I think to myself that there must be a better way to “do” ministry, more like I see Jesus doing it, here’s Paul, the aged apostle, in today’s text telling his spiritual son, Timothy, that the very highest priority in his kalós, this on-going work for the cause of Christ, is to:
What did Paul say?
Wait. That can’t be right.
Don’t you realize, Paul, that there is so much work to be done, so many ministry plates to spin, when it comes to doing ministry in and for the name of Jesus? Don’t you realize there are countless people to care for, important ministries to oversee, buildings to expand, budgets to be met, projects to be completed, and of course, sermons to be prepared?
“It’s all about Do-Do-Doing,” my inner plate spinner says.
“No, it’s not son, it’s all about Pray-Pray-Praying,” the old apostle responds.
Hmm. Which voice will win this battle?
I’ve heard it said that it was Martin Luther who once proclaimed, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
But wait a minute, here. Luther didn’t have a cell phone, nor were his parishioners able to reach him 24-7 via text, email or FaceTime!
Yet, if the apostle Paul, who trekked thousands of miles journeying through two continents for the cause of Christ, could make prayer his highest priority; and…
If the great reformer, Martin Luther, could spark a reformation and still find three hours in each day for prayer; and…
If Jesus of Nazareth could walk away from His adoring crowds, removing Himself so that He could be alone with His Father…
Then just maybe you and I might be wise enough to pencil in at least a daily prayer session with the Master, adjusting our busy ministry schedules in order to linger before the King of Kings, bringing Him our concerns and prayer needs, while listening for His wisdom and counsel?
Do-Do-Doing vs. Pray-Pray-Praying?
I’m not sure how you see it, but since so much of my Do-Do-Doing (i.e. my plate-spinning for Jesus) has resulted in my standing in big piles of doo-doo, I’m thinking it’s time for me to change over to Pray-Pray-Praying instead!
Excuse me, time to step away and…you guessed it…pray!
My prayer: OK, Jesus…You make Your point well. Since I don’t see You in the Gospels running around, breathlessly spinning plates for the cause of the Kingdom, and since I find Paul encouraging his young apprentice, Timothy, to pray, pray, and then do more prayer…I surrender! Holy Spirit, indwell me and empower me for the work of prayer, for the greater glory of God. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What practical changes need to be made in my daily schedule so that I make prayer my highest priority of the day instead of leaving it to chance, hoping it might happen in the middle of my busy plate spinning? What are some additional practical steps I can take over the next month to place prayer at the center of my kalós, the ministry I do, versus seeing it as an add-on to my busy schedule?
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