This morning, my quiet time took me to 1 Timothy 6:11-21. I have been slowly working through Paul's first letter to the young pastor, Timothy, for the last couple of months. I've been reading the letter as though Paul, himself, was writing to me, encouraging and challenging me as a pastor. There has been much that Paul has said that has caused me to pause, think, and reflect. This morning was no different.
In the closing words of his letter, Paul, encourages Timothy to "fight the good fight of the faith." But it's in the words of verse 11 and 12, that I found myself coming back to, asking, What am I pursuing?
"11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:11-12 ESV)
In the earlier verses, Paul warns Timothy of discontentment and the dangers of chasing dreams of money and riches; and how destructive the love of money can be. And so he says in verse 11, 'But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.' Then he says, 'Pursue..."
It was this part of the verse that I found myself stopping to ask, am I pursuing these things?
Righteousness. Godliness. Faith. Love. Endurance. Gentleness.
Think about it for a second or two.
As youth workers, we get so busy in the day to day runnings of our ministries. To Do Lists, Phone Calls, Emails, Planning meeting, Study and Teaching Prep Times, and the regular Administrative stuff that we all have to do. It's a lot. And always at the back of our minds; our own spiritual healthy and growth.
So we schedule quiet times, sabbath rests, and opportunities to spend time in God's word. As of late, I have been evaluating my own usage of these practices asking, and I really doing this to grow as a Christ follower? Or am I simply 'being faithful' in the little things with hopes that God will 'be faithful' with the the 'bigger things?' This mornings reading brought me to the intersection of the question, am I truly pursuing the things of God; righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness?
It seems to me, that whether we are in full-time ministry or not, these would be the very things that we, men and women of God, should be chasing after. But are we?
Think about all the things that you are chasing...
- successful ministry,
- growing student attendance,
- recruiting, training and commissioning volunteers,
- spending time with students,
- building relationships,
- staying current with the latest social media app,
- reading the newest student ministry books,
- developing healthy parent ministries,
- making sure we stay within budget,
- and on and on the list goes... and yet the very thing we are called to pursue rarely, if ever crosses our minds.
So what are we to do? How do we chase after the qualities that Paul lists for the man or woman of God to possess?
I think it comes down to re-thinking why we're in ministry in the first place. We have been called by God to preach the good news of Christ's Gospel to the world, and to do it in love! Too often, we get caught up in the stuff of ministry, and we forget that ministry starts with us.
I don't have any solution or 3 step plan for learning how to chase after the things of God, except to say, that we have to want it. I know for me, if it is something that I want, then I usually work harder to get that which I want. With that comes the awareness that I'm not just doing something to cross it off a To Do List, but that I am doing what brings delight, for me and for God. A quiet time or a time of personal study isn't so we can say that we've done such things, but to truly grow us up in the nurture, faith, and grace of our Lord. Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness are the byproducts of what God does in our lives as we chase after him. It's then for us, with the Lord's help, to live these qualities out in our marriages, and our families, our ministries, and lives.
To help remind me of what I am chasing after, I made a little wall poster on 11"x17" paper with these verses on it and taped it up in my office. I want to walk into my office every day, look at these verses, read them, and remember that with each day, I am pursuing something greater than just a successful student ministry. I am chasing after a God who loves me, who has called me to be and do something beyond myself, and to be a man of God who seeks righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
My hope is that these verse might help to encourage you in the same ways!
PS...Do you want the same reminder? You can download a .pdf copy of the wall poster which you can then print out and hang on your office wall. The download is free. I only ask that you do not remove the domain name at the bottom of the poster.
Jay Higham is a 24 year veteran of student ministry; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently the Youth Director at Hickory Church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for 19 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, 4 boys and 1 little girl. You can learn more about their ministry to the family by visiting their family blog at, www.TheHighamFamily.com!