Thursday, April 11, 2024

Leaders Who Care

Before you can serve a cake you have to bake it. Exegesis always precedes exposition. Exegesis is personal and private. It takes place in the workshop. Exposition is shared and public. Not every detail of exegesis is shared when we teach, of course. In the end, we want people to see not the fine details but the whole patterns and how the parts are related. Sometimes (not always) a detail sticks out. That happened to me this morning as I was reading Romans 12. I noticed how "leadership" comes smack dab in the middle of caring ministries. 

Likewise, in 1 Tim. 3:5, "leading" and "caring" are combined:

If anyone does not know how to lead his own family, how can he take care of God's church?

Bo Reicke, my Doktorvater in Basel, wrote in TDNT that the verb proistÄ“mi originally meant to "put oneself at the head" or "go first in line." Then it came to mean (1) "preside" in the sense of ruling or leading and (2) "protect" in the sense of caring for. Pastoral ministry combines both of these meanings. It is essentially parental ministry (see 1 Thess. 2-3). The emphasis is not so much on rank and authority but on their care for the spiritual well-being of others. 

In theory? Doable. In practice? Difficult to say the least. I am thankful for the pastor-teachers I have known who have truly cared for their flocks. Even as a teacher, this is my high calling: to train students to do exegesis even as I serve and care for them in love. If my students aren't deeply touched by my Christ, then I must be doing a miserable job of representing him.