Colossians 1:28-29 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
What a beautiful, accurate description of the job of a pastor-teacher! You could say that evangelists are obstetricians in the family of God, but then you need pediatricians also. It’s wonderful and essential for people to be born again, but it’s pathetic when they remain spiritual infants, always dependent on others and hardly knowing how to feed themselves. Hebrews has a very pointed rant about that in Hebrews 5:11-14. The difficult thing for the pastor is that every believer is at a different place in their spiritual journey – and that includes the pastor! I realize the Greek can be translated either way, but I think some people might be thrown off by the word “perfect” in this verse. I prefer the way the Japanese says “mature,” as in “adult.” None of us is ever perfect this side of heaven, but we can certainly aim for maturity. Many of the evils of society come from people failing, or refusing, to grow up. A mature person recognizes responsibility and doesn’t run from it. They are accountable, ready to answer for their behavior. Everyone benefits from good parenting, from people who will encourage them to grow in every area while teaching them responsibility and accountability. That’s the job of a pastor, and I can testify that it’s no easier with spiritual children than it is with physical children! It’s hard work, but as Paul says here, God supplies the necessary wisdom and energy, if the pastor is open to receive it.
Since I am a pastor with the primary motivational gift of Teacher, this job description is spot on for me. How well I do it is for God to decide. I joke that the reason I stay youthful is that I never mature, but I hope and pray that is never more than a joke. I too need to be fully adult in all my decisions and actions. That isn’t to say that I’m not to have a childlike delight in things; that would make me frumpy and uninteresting. There’s a huge difference between being childlike and childish, even though linguistically the words might seem to be identical. I am to remain always a child of God, delighting in my Daddy and all He does and provides for me, but I am to be as mature as possible in my stewardship of all of that. I am to desire and seek for people to be born into the family of God, and I am to encourage and appreciate those who are called as spiritual obstetricians, but I am not to put myself down for not having that particular gifting. This congregation has never been big in numbers, but several have gone from here into fulltime ministry, and others have been notable for their maturity. Producing such people is my job description, and like Paul, I’m to work at it with all of God’s energy, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I feel like I am to share this with the congregation, but some of the concepts and distinctions aren’t going to be easy to express in Japanese. I ask for wisdom and anointing in preparing the outline and especially in delivering the message, so that each hearer may be encouraged and strengthened to go on to full maturity, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!