Fathers and Pastors; June 4, 2019

1 Timothy 3:5 If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

To be honest, I don’t know why this chapter is in the readings on In Christ, but it’s certainly practical. I have always felt this parenthetical rhetorical question was a “zinger,” because I was a Missionary Kid myself and had lots of friends who were MKs and Preacher’s Kids. To a degree, I’ve thought it was unfair to judge someone on the basis of their children. Children are indeed separate entities from their parents, but it is very true that a local church is a family, and the pastor is the father figure. Physical fathers have more authority to “lay down the law” to their children than pastors do, (or at least should) but the parallels are clear. That’s not to say that it’s easy, in either case! As the verse ahead of this says, fathers, and pastors, should command respect. That’s not the same as demanding respect; we see too much of that. If a father is both loving and firm, modeling the behavior he expects of his children, then they will indeed respect him, and the same may be said of a pastor. The biggest problem comes with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Every believing father, and certainly every pastor, wants those in their family to have an active, intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit, so that must be his own first priority. Just as children sometimes go astray, church members do too. That is the responsibility of the straying individual, but the father’s/pastor’s response is of vital importance. There are no perfect fathers aside from God, and there are no perfect pastors aside from Jesus, so we do need to exercise grace toward ourselves and each other, but a man’s family is indeed a good indicator of how good a pastor he will be.

My first child was not yet born when I came face-to-face with the whole idea of being a father, and I wept. I remember it well. I was working as a photo darkroom technician, and I had a radio playing. It was early 1970, and the song, Turn Around came on. The lyrics talk about how time passes so quickly, and before you know it your children are parents themselves. The song specifically talks about a daughter, and I had no idea at that point that the child in Cathy’s womb was a girl! However, as I said, I wept, knowing that I could not stop the flow of time and that I had to make the best use of each moment. When it came to being a pastor, it was more complicated. I accepted a pastorate in rural Virginia, knowing that in order to minister to pastors in Japan I needed to know what it was like to shepherd a small flock. What I didn’t know was that my flock in Japan has been a fraction of even that small congregation! I didn’t do a perfect job with that flock, nor did I do a perfect job with my two daughters, or the flock here in Omura. However, I seek to be faithful, asking and acting on God’s wisdom in each situation, so that I may be an instrument of His will being done, for the blessing of those under my care and for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. You know how I resisted the idea of being a pastor again after we came to Omura, and how I have complained that I was gifted as a teacher but not as a pastor. Thank You for using me anyway. I pray that I would keep growing faithfully for as long as You keep me here, so that I may not get in the way of what You are doing, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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