Our Lectio Divina for today:
Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands. It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. 2nd Timothy 2: 22-26; 1st Timothy 1: 8 (MsgB)
So far, we’ve identified two key components, in Paul’s mind, that define the core work of pastoral ministry, this kalós or precious treasure, he is handing off to his son in the faith, Timothy. And in today’s Lectio Divina, we find our wise sage, once again, reminding us of these two very important duties:
Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace (Soul Care)
Joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. (Prayer)
Today, let’s explore a third component to pastoral ministry, one which is so very often overlooked in today’s culture: the ancient tool of spiritual direction, or as I like to call it, the Gift of Gentle Listening.
Look carefully here in today’s passage, at how Paul speaks to the gentle character of those who serve the Body of Christ, and then, if you will, let’s contrast that with the way we so very often define successful leadership as it is modeled in today’s church world.
I remember one of the most powerful lessons my pastoral coach, Dave Jacobs, shared with me so many years ago. He said, “Marty, for most of my years in pastoral ministry, I believed it was my job to always be telling and selling something. Much to my surprise, when I began to slow down long enough to care for my soul and began talking and praying with Jesus, I heard Him asking me to stop my telling and selling, and simply learn the fine art of asking great questions and then being still enough so I could become a great listener!”
Telling & Selling.
Asking Great Questions & Gentle Listening.
So, let me ask you, my dear friend, how have you spent much of your time in kalós, your pastoral ministry? Have you been the strong leader who never backs away from an argument? Is your ministry style confrontational and demanding? Are you the commando leader, the John Wayne type, who is always charging up the troops to take the next hill for Jesus?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe there is a place for determined leadership. A place in the church for men and women with true grit, godly servants who lead the flock into battle. Onward Christian solders and all that!
But, as I see it, it’s time to take a cue from the old master, Paul, here and re-think the way you and I lead. In today’s text, I find a man who, yes, has fought his share of battles, but now realizes that it’s more important to weigh carefully the cost of being that confrontational leader who must always have his or her own way. Let’s look again at some of the apostle’s choice words here:
God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey.
So, when was the last time you found yourself operating in the gift of patience when one of your parishioners was obviously refusing to obey one of God’s commands?
It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say.
Hmm. And what did you say and who did you say it to the last time someone in your church did or said something that wasn’t the right thing to say or do?
If you’re like me, you know for a fact that you’ve not been that Gentle Listener, the pastoral shepherd who is practicing the fine art of spiritual direction, where we learn to ask great questions and then stay silent long enough so that we might do some great listening.
Telling & Selling.
Asking Great Questions & Gentle Listening.
Guilty as charged, Paul. Guilty as charged.
My prayer: So, today, Father, I choose to become more like that pastoral leader I see Paul speaking of…that Gentle Listener who lays down my drive to tell & sell, and prefers instead to be that one who practices the fine art of spiritual direction; asking great questions and then sitting quietly so I might truly hear what others are saying. Holy Spirit, indwell me and empower me to this marvelous gift. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What’s on my telling & selling agenda today? Might I be willing to lay that agenda down for a moment, so that the Holy Spirit might use me today as one who truly cares, asking more revealing questions then entering into argumentative discussions? What inner drives are keeping me from quieting myself more so that I might better hear others for the cause of Christ?
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