I preached the introduction to 1st Timothy yesterday. Written to a young pastor, this letter holds a lot of meaning for me, as it does for anyone who pastors. Unfortunately, the “Pastoral letters” to Timothy and Titus can be a tough sell to those who don’t consider themselves “Professional Christians”. The letters lend themselves easily to those who wish to use them as a tool to examine whether a, our, or THE church is healthy or sick. In truth, this is what they are intended for and ALL churches should regularly visit these three letters for encouragement, correction, and guidance.
I believe that the letters can also be used to pastor our First Church–our home. Just like Ephesus, false truths, demonic “wisdom”, and sinful behavior rises up from within. If we don’t fight, fight for the wrong things, or allow others to fight in our stead, our first churches will become sick and die.
We are not born fighters. Timothy wasn’t thrust into a den of wolves without being pastored FIRST by his family. In 2Timothy 1.5, Paul writes, I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. Sounds like Mom and Grandma took their charge seriously. And in order to fight, they equipped Timothy with the best armor and weapons available: 2Timothy 3.14-16 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ.
Practically speaking, we’re all pastors shepherding someone. We preach sermons through our actions and our inaction. We preach through our words and our silences. We preach through the values we live not the ones we speak. We teach through what we worship and how we sacrifice. We preach through our joys and our sufferings. Just as Paul charged Timothy to Protect, Lead, Teach, and Love, so men, women, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even great-grandparents are charged to defend their first churches, until they have been trained to defend themselves.
Not all of us got to received “good preaching” in our first church, some of us heard and saw some really bad sermons from those we thought loved us, but some of us had some awesome pastor-moms or grandmas. For whatever reason, many of us have stopped fighting (or never started) and now, we feel much like Timothy probably did–out of his league–inexperience, ill-equipped, and overwhelmed. The truth is, God has chosen YOU to fight in your FIRST CHURCH. There are some fights that ONLY you can fight as Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Husband, Wife, and it’s never too late to start fighting.