Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Unlikely and despised

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 16:1-24

TO CHEW ON: “And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Therefore let no one despise him.” 1 Corinthians 16:10-11

On January 10th this year, a young and relatively unknown women’s curling team won the right to represent Alberta in the Scott Tournament of Hearts. They did this by beating the veteran Shannon Kleibrink rink. After 22-year-old skip Valerie Sweeting’s final shot, there was stunned silence in the Calgary curling venue. Onlookers could scarcely believe their Goliath champions had fallen to a rink of unlikely and formerly ‘despised’ 21 to 23-year-olds.

We have the same tendency to despise – especially unlikely leaders – in the church. In our reading today, Paul tells the Corinthians not to despise (exoutheneo) Timothy. Why might they have done that?
- His youth.
- His less-than-ideal pedigree – he was part Hebrew, part Greek.
- His sickly, generally timid manner.

These same factors come into play as we evaluate our leaders. Their youth and inexperience, combined with things like trendy (weird, to us) clothes and hairstyles may, in our eyes, disqualify them from teaching us anything. They may be foreigners with hard-to-understand accents who sometimes use odd words making them sound less intelligent than they are. Or they may have personalities that don’t display well in the limelight – wooden speaking styles and a general lack of public polish.

Despite unlikely outward appearances, Paul instructs us to honor the leaders God gives us and treat them with respect. He speaks of how fractious preferring one minister over another is worldly. He talks of how, though God’s choices for leaders may seem unlikely to us, their success brings glory to Him because no way could they have achieved it by themselves.

Are there Timothys in your life? How do you treat them?

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to value and respect the leaders You have placed in my church. May I honor You with my attitude toward them. Amen.

MORE: A modern pastor's power

 The topic of pastoral power and church government is huge and fraught with minefields. Old Testament leaders (like Moses) had almost dictatorial powers – under God, of course. In the New Testament, elders and deacons helped govern the church. Through the years, churches have adjusted their government models to the cultures in which they exist. For those interested, here are a couple of articles that address church government and a pastor’s authority. I post them as jumping-off points for your thought – not because I completely endorse the position of the authors.

The Pastor’s Authority” by Ray C. Stedman - This article talks about general principles of church organization and a pastor's power.

The Elusive Biblical Model of Leadership” – This article explains how various models of church government evolved and how the Mennonite Brethren organize their churches.

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