In my previous post about my Adventures in the Shire I wrote about some of the things that the Lord has been teaching me during my time in the Shire. I can say that He has been speaking to me continually and continues to challenge me. One of the biggest lessons that I have been processing through has to do with the expecation for Elders and deacons.
1 Timothy 3 says, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, the women[c] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
In about 5 days I will be celebrating 5 months in the Shire (I can’t even believe it!) and in the past 5 months I have choosen my church, become an elder, have become an assisting pastor at my church and I am part of the pastoral team with the youth at my church. And in the past 5 months I haven’t been able to get the above scripture out of my mind. That as an elder, as a pastor and even being a face associated with the District Office I must be intential with my actions. God has been showing me over the past 5 months how my actions and my words must be above reproach. This means that my actions can just look correct to me but it must speak Christ to all who see. If what I do could be misconstrued by those who look up to me and look to me for guidance and cause them to stumble then I am not living above reproach. Even just the possibility that what I am doing could lead them to stumble means that I am not living above reproach. I am realizing how many people I have who are watching my motions, not to see me stumble but because God has placed me as an example.
Since my senior year in high school the Lord has been showing me that He has called me to something different, something higher. I was really frustrated my senior year because I found that there were those in my senior year who professed to be Christians and yet partied every week. I was shook to the core because I thought they understood my dedication to the Lord but their lives didn’t show this. I was angry, frustrated and confused. And the Lord showed me that I shouldn’t look at their Christianity and judge them because we all are at different points in walking out our Christian walk. He said that He is calling me to greater things and He is asking that I live above where others hold themselves and where others are being called. I wasn’t to look at anyone elses walk to judge my own and I wasn’t to judge others walks based on my own. I was to follow Jesus and love others.
So you see… God calling me to live above reproach is not a new thing. It just has been hitting me in a new way and showing me how important it is. How much of an honor and responsibility it is to be a pastor. Although it is cool and fun to say that I’m a pastor the truth of the matter is that I now carry a weight on my shoulder. The great thing though is that I am not left up to my own devices to try to live above reproach. Instead the Lord says, “Cast that weight upon me… turn your eyes upon me and I will help you.” I have been given others around me to hold me accountable and to correct me. He has given me the Holy Spirit that enables me to do His will. He will give me what I need to carry out His calling in my life. 1 Tim 3 doesn’t just stop with living above reproach, it continues by explaining how we live above reproach: temperate living, self-control, respectable, hospitable, teachable, not quarrelsome, not conceited…
The Lord has begun to challenge me… are my words life giving or death? Am I saying, thinking, doing everything I want or am I thinking about what is going into and coming out of me? Am I willing to be corrected and taught? Do I fight everything that people say, am I always waiting for a fight? Is everything about me? God is challenging me not to just move through life allowing thoughts to enter and leave my mind with no real thought but instead to be aware of my thoughts, my words and my actions to see if they are above reproach. My life is no longer just about me but my life has to do with others. It is about Christ in me reaching those without hope, sharing the Freedom that is found in a life in Him. And so, as I realize that my life is not always about me and I gain a new realization of the reproach I must be above, I must challenge myself daily not just to do the daily grind but to be intentional in it all.
Have you ever been frustrated because you found out things and people were not what you thought?
What is God challenging you with? How are you seeking to walk that out.