In addition to his instructions to Titus about choosing pastors to serve the churches of Crete he also gave instructions to Timothy. These instructions are quite similar to those given to Titus but there are several additional items. Today I would like to point out just one of those:
He must manage his own household well, keeping his children in subjection with complete dignity (if someone doesn’t know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?). (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
Paul uses two important words here and it is instructive to understand them both. The word “manage” (proistemi) is a word that means to lead with authority. He is in charge of his family, he rules there and has his children “in subjection.” But in the church, Paul uses a different word. He says the pastor is to “care for God’s church” (epimeleomai). It is the same word Luke used to describe the care the Good Samaritan took of the wounded traveler.
But in using the two different terms he draws a hard connecting line. If he cannot “manage” his own household, it should not be expected that he can “care” for the church. Here we have illustrated for us the great paradox of pastoral ministry. He not given authority to impose his will on the church in the same way he is in his home, but the skill set is the same.
Perhaps a parable would be helpful. Imagine a hotel owner who hires a man to manage his hotel. The owner gives his manager authority to run things and gives him this instruction: “serve my guests.” The owner then leaves his manager in charge and takes a long trip overseas.
The manager goes to work and diligently oversees the operations of the hotel. He trains his workers carefully and makes sure the rooms are clean, bathrooms are spotless, fresh towels are supplied, and guests are made to feel at home. Any problem a guest has is solved quickly and professionally.
One day his switchboard is inundated with calls from the third floor that there is a man running up and down the hallway screaming obscenities. This will not do, so he calls the police and the man, who is also a guest in the hotel, is taken away protesting loudly that because he is a paying guest he has the right to do as he pleases.
Several days later another guest is spotted on the security camera loading the television from his room into his car. The manager runs out to the parking lot and confronts the man who, instead of relinquishing the TV, becomes indignant when the the manager refuses to help him lift it into his car.
Later that night a guest sneaks his two small dogs into his room and leaves to have supper at a local restaurant. In his absence the dogs yap continuously annoying the guests on the entire floor. Even though the guest has paid for his room, upon returning, the manager insists that he leave.
I think it is an apt metaphor for the difficulties a pastor faces. The owner, our Lord, has left him in charge. He is to “care for” His people. But in the course of doing so he must restrain some kinds of activity. He must forbid those kinds of things that bring disruption to the lives of those he is charged to “care for.” He is ultimately responsible to God, not his people, for how he ministers. In the course of that ministry he will displease some but it is his Master Who must be pleased above all.
Our new pastor will be entrusted with the responsibility to “care for” Calvary. He will have to insist that some things change—that we stop doing some things we are now doing and begin doing some things we have never done before—because “caring for” us dictates those changes. Are we ready to follow the lead of such a man?