2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Parting remarks can be very revealing, because they can express the highlights of a person’s thoughts and feelings. One striking, and surprising, difference between the NIV and the Japanese here is that where the NIV says, “good-by,” the Japanese says, “Rejoice!” I don’t have the Greek in front of me, but that certainly seems different. (My wife checked, and the Greek says “rejoice.”) Also, where the NIV says, “Listen to my appeal,” the Japanese says, “Be comforted.” The points of agreement are perfection, unity, and peace. Those are all things the Corinthians struggled with. Frankly, we all do! Verse 14 is probably the most widely used Christian benediction, and this verse certainly leads into it. Paul has had his disagreements with the Corinthians, but this shows he genuinely desired the best for them, even when he felt he had to speak strongly to them. That should be true of every leader, whether it is or not. Some leaders seem totally wrapped up in themselves, rather than exercising their position for the sake of those led. We certainly see that in politicians all the time! The Church is in real trouble when her leaders act more like politicians than servants of Christ! (Actually, politicians can and should be servants of Christ, but that’s another matter.) Genuine leaders don’t have total control over those led, and certainly never should try for that. Rather, they should aim to be channels of the blessings of God to those they lead, because they are never more than under-shepherds, serving the Great Shepherd, the Owner of the sheep. (Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 5:4) They need to reflect His attitude and intentions toward the sheep.
I have had times of being very ambivalent about being a pastor (which means, literally, “shepherd”) but I think I’m at peace with it now. I certainly know I can’t do it right in my own strength! I love sharing the Word with people, but the day-to-day interactions can make me want to run away! I am told that at times I come across as angry and/or condemning, and I don’t like that at all. It’s an ironic part of my personality, but I get angry that I’m angry! As James said, human anger doesn’t bring God’s righteousness. (James 1:19-20) I have long felt that James 1:22 was written specifically for me, but those earlier verses were too! I am not to run from the tasks God gives me, and leadership happens to be one of them. I am to recognize the tools He has given me and not complain about the ones I don’t seem to have, rather seeking to be faithful whatever my situation. I have too much experience with trusting in the tools rather than in the One who gave them to me! My goal should always be to present those I lead perfect before God, because they belong to Him in the first place.
Father, thank You for yet another Word on this subject. It’s certainly a recurring issue with me. Help me be fully submitted to You and Your authority, so that Your authority may be accurately expressed through me for the benefit of those I lead, (verse 10) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!