We’re at the time of year again when our elders/pastors (and our deacons) review their qualifications as overseers. We must answer if we think we are still meeting the character requirements (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9), if we still hold to or have developed new hesitations regarding “What We Believe,” if we are making progress in our spiritual lives that others can see, and if we can see fruit of God’s grace through our ministry work.
That’s just the first part of our annual affirmation process; it’s not biblical in that there is no explicit verse that provides a standard operating procedure for pastoral affirmation, but it is part of our attempt to apply the exhortation Paul gave to Timothy:
Keep a close watch (take heed – KJV, pay close attention – NASB) on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16 ESV)
It is hard to be honest, not because you want to put on a show, but because “close attention” always shows shortcomings, weaknesses, sins remaining to be killed, Christlike attributes needing to be pursued. It is a cause for humble rejoicing when someone says, “You’ve really grown in that area!” It is a cause for humble learning when someone says, “You really need to grow in that area.”
I bring this up for three reasons. First, Dave and Jim and Jonathan and Ryan and I are not satisfied, we do not think we’ve arrived, we press on (see Philippians 3:12-14). Second, please pray for Dave and Jim and Jonathan and Ryan and I as we seek to shepherd you for your progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25). And third, shepherds are to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3), and though your “teaching” may look different, you can still pay attention to yourselves. All believes ought to be able to answer similar questions as they pursue greater Christlikeness by faith.