I love being a pastor, elder, and overseer. I would consider it a high calling and think that becoming a king would be a demotion instead of a promotion when compared to the call of a pastor. There is nothing else I would want to do. Since I was 14, it is all I have ever wanted to do. I preached throughout high school. I went to college to be a pastor. Yes, when in high school and college I worked at Freds, McDonalds, and Burt's, but only to make money to put towards paying for college to be a pastor. If only everyone could know and be fulfilled by doing what it is they have always wanted to do. I dream about it. I wake up thinking about it. There is not a 9-5 switch you can turn on and off with it. I love people and want to see them saved and discipled into the image of Christ!
I thought about it and was so blessed by it when our whole Generation (about 60-70 people were there) got together Sunday after church for a cookout and kickball (what a time of fellowship and outreach). I loved cooking 80 hamburgers and 80 hot dogs to serve them! I thought about it all day yesterday when on my day off on Memorial Day. I thought about the people in my Life Group. I thought about the people in our church who serve and whose lives have been changed. I prayed for those who were going through difficulties. I am driven by this calling! It consumes me and I love it!
Paul gives Timothy some important qualifications for elders, pastors, overseers (bishops), and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13. I want to deal with just verse 1 in this blog. Here is verse 1: "Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task."
"Trustworthy" basically means "you can count on this" and "it is common knowledge". When Paul said it was a trustworthy saying it meant you could believe in this statement - everyone knows this. He went on to say whoever "aspires" or "desires" to be an overseer desires a noble task. This word "aspire" or "desire" means "is passionately pursuing" and "dedicated towards achieving". In other words, a person says they are a pastor/elder/overseer and wants to be a pastor/elder/overseer passionately strives after it and is dedicated to fulfilling their calling in it. It is all over them that they know what they are called to and are striving toward.
The second word I want to point out is "overseer" it is the word episkopos and means "an overseer". It refers to those who are presbuteros (elders) as well (Titus 1:5 and 1 Peter 2:25). It is the highest leader in the church. Those who are striving after the calling of pastors/elders/overseers/bishops must be diligent, devoted, and literally consumed by it. It doesn't mean that you strive to get the title or position and then stop striving - you continually strive to grow, learn, increase, and better fulfill this high calling.
Most of the English versions use the same word twice in this verse - "aspires". But it is really two different words. The first time the word "aspires" is used it refers to outward striving. The second time it is used it refers to "inward" striving and growth. What is the meaning? Someone who strives outwardly at first to be a pastor/overseer/elder will only fulfill this if the inward striving increases as well. The outward must be a reflection of the inward or the calling is not real. How do you know you are called? One of the best indications is aspiring. You are constantly growing, dreaming, praying, and striving to be all that God has called you to. You are giving your best at all times. You don't give leftovers. Nothing else distracts or is more important than your calling. It is not something you do - it is who you are!
Lastly, it is called a "noble task". The KJV calls it work. Being an overseer/pastor/elder is hard, yet, fulfilling work. Those in top leadership in the church should give more than those under them. Those in top leadership not only do it to model but do it because it is an natural overflow of who they are and what they have been called to. The words "noble" and "work" usually don't go together. Nobility denotes one who has risen to the top but has others working for them - releasing them from hard work. But those who are overseers/pastors/elders/bishops must work. They work harder than anyone else because they are driven and called to it.
I pray that as a pastor/elder/overseer I am being changed inwardly and outwardly as I strive to be a pastor/elder/overseer not in position but in calling. I want to be challenged to grow and increase. I want to learn what it really means to be a pastor and elder. I aspire to be all the Christ has called me to be so our church can be and have all He desires for it! I'll give whatever, whenever, however, to whomever because I am a pastor. I am an elder. Hey elders, pastors, and overseers everywhere out there - it is time to rise up! It is not just a little church job - its the high calling of a lifetime of ministry! Aspire, grow, increase, work hard, be diligent, model, teach, train, equip, and live a life, as Paul points out in Ephesians 4:1, "the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."