On Thursday, one hour into a six-hour flight, a medical emergency reared its ugly head. In a moment, flight attendants ceased to be wait staff and emerged as EMTs. None of them appeared to be handcuffed by a lack of knowledge or training or resources. On display was the professional expertise that hides most days beneath lap belt demonstrations and the pouring of coffee. The roles and responsibilities of the flight crew are multi-varied and span from mundane to marvelous.
In Paul’s figurative speech in today’s text, he paints a picture of the multi-varied life of the Christian leader. In describing Timothy’s ministry at Ephesus, Paul refers to him as a teacher, a soldier, an athlete, a farmer, a craftsman, and a noble vessel. Who knew he had all that in him? But then, an hour into his pastorate, a spiritual emergency rears its ugly head and the many-varied roles are revealed.
The crisis at Ephesus was a crisis of words. The gospel was being warped by unreliable heralds. The perceived threat of the gospel was being met with imprisonment. Some tried to chain God’s Word. Others tried to substitute their own God-less chatter. Still others quarreled about it without ever really dissecting it. This crisis called for a leader with many disciplines. This crisis still confronts us today.
The teacher of teachers must emerge to preserve sound doctrine down the generations. The enduring soldier must take up his post and not be moved by the distractions of the world. His mission is to please his Commanding Officer. The player/coach helps athletes to run life’s race in the Word’s narrow lanes only if he himself abides by God’s rules. The farmer in him must show up as hardworking if he expects to enjoy ministry’s fruits. And the craftsman in him must show up highly skilled in cutting and joining the precious resource of truth.
How ready are you to be a holy instrument in the Master’s hand, serving noble purposes? Can you be strong? Can you endure? Can you compete? Can you re-duplicate your leadership in others? This readiness begins with a devotion to the Word; a scholarly and reflective approach that leads to accuracy and insight. “God’s solid foundation stands firm.” Stand on it. Serve from it. Spread its truth.
Pray: God of truth, I chain myself and dull my effectiveness when I take your Word lightly. Help me to be an approved craftsman of the Scriptures, unashamed for You to inspect my work. Help me to be strong by your grace - to teach, to lead, to stay focused, that my ministry might be as unfettered as your Word.