1 Timothy 4:12-16 Human conspiracies and complexities cannot prevail in the face of divine ordination
1 Timothy 4:12-16
12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself a pattern^ of those who believe. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the divine gift* within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
^ The NASB translates as example.
* The NASB translates as spiritual gift which infer the gift as being carried by the Holy Spirit. However, charisma merely means a gift that originates from God, the Divine.
Timothy, in spite of his youthfulness must rise up to the call amidst the complexities of overseeing a group of churches. He must resist the temptation of engaging his adversaries head on but take pains to build himself up in the wisdom of the word and in godly conduct. Paul urges Timothy to constantly depend on the divine gift, for human conspiracies and complexities cannot prevail in the face of divine ordination. Today’s devotion teaches us to seek divine ordination as overseer of our respective field of work.
Let no one look down on your youthfulness…
Paul anticipates for Timothy oppositions within the church, who use the devices of kataphroneo (look down) in order to discredit Timothy as superintendent of churches. What makes Timothy an easy target apparently is his youthfulness, which they surmise as incompetent. Paul, as mentor summarily dismisses the troublemakers’ assertions as inconsequential. What gives credence to a leader is not his seniority in years, but his competency and moral attributes: but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. It is through the leader’s lifestyle and manner of speech that the ordination of God on his life becomes evident. Paul does not suggest direct confrontation with his adversaries, but an impeccable conduct (according to the pattern of those who believe), is a sure answer to their folly.
Paul charges Timothy to do due diligence by giving full attention to reading and teaching of the word. The best defense against distracters and disrupters, is to refocus the people’s attention back to the reading and exhortation of Scripture: Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Do not neglect the divine gift within you…
Paul draws attention to the charisma (divine gift) that is invested in Timothy purely for the purpose of fulfilling his calling as shepherd to the churches. Paul, being an experienced shepherd and church planter is familiar with the myriad of internal and external challenges facing the young pastor. It is easy for Timothy while being caught up in the thick of things to depend on his natural abilities and lose sight (neglect) of the divine gift that sustains his ministry. Paul encourages Timothy to take comfort in the residence of the divine gift and to depend on it for success. Paul further substantiates the weight and the irrevocability of the divine gift by the way which Timothy is ordained: through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. God explicitly appoints Timothy to the role through the ministry of the prophets (prophetic utterance) confirmed by the laying on of hands by the council of elders (presbytery). By the testimony of the prophets and laying on of hands by the presbytery, Timothy can be assured of divine accompaniment in all his endeavours.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things…
An indispensable part of Timothy’s responsibilities is to teach the word and to establish godliness in the church. By God’s providence, the divine gift carries divine enablement to instruct in clarity and to reinforce godliness as a way of life. Paul urges Timothy not to be sidetracked by things that seem important or too complex to handle, but to take pains with these things (godliness); be absorbed in them… Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching. Paul has in mind three things: firstly, the course of transforming lives towards godliness is only possible through conscientious teaching of the word and the exemplary conduct of leaders. Secondly, the divine gift of teaching and shepherding must be further developed through perseverance and self-improvement. Thirdly, salvation can only be obtained by continually walking in the path of godliness: for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
When problems get too complex to handle, work on the fundamentals.
Much of the complexities that we face in today’s organisations have to do with people and their attitudes. Erroneous processes can be fixed and improved upon in a very short time, but people are not machines nor can they be altered by a flick of a switch. Some bright ideas may work wonders, but in today’s world where change has become a constant, it takes more than a few bright minds to stay ahead of the pack. Having said, if companies possess the will to establish a right culture beginning with the fundamentals of the human psyche, they will prosper and continue to prosper for a very long time. As people inadvertently bring with them their aspirations and idiosyncrasies, it takes time and efforts to help them acclimatise to a new culture. Nevertheless, some are willing to make the change and some are not.
How can we begin working on the fundamentals of culture and human behaviour? Beginning with the leader himself, he must discover the divine purpose of his tenure as leader and align his vision according to it. Any company in order to prosper, must exist not for the purpose of self-gratification but for the society at large. Therefore, the leader must endeavour to put the benefit of the his department / organisation before himself and inspire others to do the same. For the sake of the organisation, he must first develop within him the attributes of prudent speech, conduct, and love, faith, purity and justice. Paul advices Timothy not to be drawn into the fray of solving problems that are too complex, but to first pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching. He must be wholly invested in the pursuit of personal godliness apart from the rigours of the ministry. In this way, Timothy’s progress and credibility as leader will become evident to all. Then only he will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. No organisations or churches are too hardened or complex for change, only the leader is. Daniel, a prophet and chief advisor to the king of Persia is a godly man of extraordinary spirit. Of him, Daniel 5:11-12 records, “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy God’s… This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel.” It takes more than just practical experience, talent and persistence to make fundamental changes that affect deep seated elements of culture and vision. Unless God ordains the leader, he can do nothing.
A leader’s seat of influence is in his ethos and personhood. A leader’s ethos functions much like an unstoppable aura simultaneously influencing the minds and hearts of people towards his idea of an utopian world. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained”. A vision statement is more than a tag line, a moto, or the dawn of the next big thing; it is a derivative, an afterthought of the leader’s lifestyle and ideals. Ethos and vision is a natural extension of one’s soul and heritage; it cannot be imported or casually adopted by another. Unless people see the ethos and vision embodied in the personhood of the leader, it remains as mental assent or worse still, a farce, a passing of another boring epic.
If you want to leave an enduring legacy, go with the direction of god’s call for your life.
Many young people harbour an unreal perception of ministry or work, supposing that as a path towards fame and riches. However, God always has in mind an enduring legacy for a ministry or organisation and to ensure the longevity of its fruit. Jesus says to his disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain (as a legacy), so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16. As such, God anoints with divine gifts those He chooses to propagate the legacy of His kingdom. Hence, one must not envy another, or seek a form of ministry that he is not called to. He must not imitate or idolise, but seek to understand God’s place and purpose for him. Only then, can he receive divine ordination and gift towards a ministry of enduring legacy.
Many people waste their golden years chasing a dream that is never meant to be. When they finally come round and decide to fold in… to albeit a less “desirable” role, they discover a part of themselves they never know existed. When they decide to give up on the glamour of self-serving ambition, they find inside of them what they have been searching all along; an emergence of a peculiar and magnificent kind of gift! I have a word for all glamour seekers: something that seem insignificant for the moment, will under the weight of divine ordination develop into a movement with far-reaching consequences if we do not give up. Therefore, we must never despise our humble beginnings and calling that God has destined for our glory! We must instead urge one another on to discover our divine gifts giving due respect to God’s wisdom and plans.
Are you accustomed to reacting to every situation or semblances of crisis that come your way? Problems that keep surfacing despite much efforts at remedying them signals fundamentals that has gone awry. Perhaps, you should refrain from reacting to the problem immediately but to take time to wrap yourself around it. A problem could be a symptom of a much deeper issue relating to the human psyche. As you immerse yourself in the word, change must first come to you, then, to your family and to the people at the work place.
Dear Lord, I understand that it is by divine gift that I succeed in my ministry and career. I turn my eyes from the lure of fame and riches to the working out of a lasting legacy. Anoint me with the divine gift that will help me accomplish my calling. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.