Wednesday, May 23, 2012


One passage I have come to greatly appreciate from my years as a pastor is 2 Timothy 4:2:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (ESV) 
Some like the verse because they especially like to "reprove and rebuke!" But why it has grown on me is the last bit Paul writes there: "with complete patience and teaching." The NIV translates that "with great patience and careful instruction." The Greek phrase is e˙n pa¿shØ makroqumi÷aˆ kai« didachØv.

It seems to me that the Greek preposition and adjective [e˙n pa¿sh] cover both nouns [makroqumi÷aˆ kai« didach] so that the meaning is "with all patience and with all teaching." Or if I may paraphrase that thought: teaching takes time and patience.

I was thinking about that as I read Acts chapter 2 again - the story of Pentecost. After the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Peter preaches, the hearers are cut to the heart, and 3,000 are baptized that day. But just as that day of Pentecost is not the norm, so too that is not the way our preaching and teaching usually work. We want it to! But it takes time. Time for the Word of God to sink in. Time for the Holy Spirit to work. Time for people to consider what is being said. And so pastors need to be patient, and teach and teach and then teach some more, saying things in different ways and from different angles. For the Holy Spirit works when and where He pleases. The pastor is simply to preach the word. All of it. And let the Spirit work.

I should know that because it was true for me. When I went to the seminary, I was immersed in the study of theology and the Scriptures, everyday. Yet it took until about midway through my fourth year for the light to go on in my head and for me to finally get it; to finally get the big picture of God's graciousness and the Divine Service and the theology of the cross. But once it did, what joy! And if I'm that thick and need that much time, why should I expect others to get it quicker? Or the first time I say it?

Patience. Endurance. Steadfastness. Forbearance. That's the pastoral ministry. That's a pastor feeding the flock. Paul knew it, taught it to Timothy, and now is teaching it to us.

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