Pastoral Aspirations

[1] The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. (1 Timothy 3:1)

I experienced a “double take” in reading this verse. What do you think make me think twice? 

The Apostle Paul was, in part, writing to assist Timothy selecting pastors. Verse 1 is a brief introduction before outlining qualifications for clergy. 

I could see where you might think the term “overseer” caught my attention. The term is not commonly used today. However, overseer is relatively common in the Bible, used in four different New Testament books. 

Maybe you’re thinking the phrase “noble task” caused my double take. Again, this is not a surprise. Scripture describes serving as a pastor as godly service, a ministry worthy of respect. 

No, what caused me to pause was the term “aspires.” This seemed to run counter to biblical teaching against self-promotion. While there are numerous biblical examples encouraging selflessness, one of the most applicable is Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14. 

 “[8] “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. [10] But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. (Luke 14: 8-10)

Should teenagers or men aspire to be pastors? Or should they wait to be identified by their home congregations, encouraged to consider ordained ministry, then aspire to becoming a pastor. 

I think this seemingly contradiction is solved by looking at motives. Why a man desires to serve as a pastor matters a great deal. One can desire the position of pastor for power or influence. Or one can also desire to be a pastor out of compassion for the lost or love for God. If he has a godly motive, then it truly is good for a man to aspire to serve as a missionary or pastor. 

(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS).

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