Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Importance of Commissioning

"This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,"

"Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all."
1 Tim 1:18; 4:14-15

As a bit of background, Paul wrote this first epistle to Timothy, a young minister and Paul?s prot?g?, during a time of his absence when Timothy was left responsible for the church at Ephesus. Timothy was Paul's apprentice of sorts, but more than that, he was his "son in the faith." His concern for Timothy's success as a minister was motivated by Paul?s concern for the church and also his affection for Timothy as a person. As a loving "father" he encourages Timothy not to consider his own strengths or limitations as a person but rather to consider the spiritual gift given to him and the prophecies made concerning him by the spiritual elders.

Taken collectively, these passages make up a heavy exhortation to Timothy to draw strength in his calling by the gifts and prophecies made concerning him. Considering the nature of the audience of this epistle and the relationship between Paul and Timothy, there is a two pronged application that can be drawn from these passages. First, as witnesses of Christ's gospel, often experiencing discouragement and fear, we can be encouraged ourselves. Secondly, we can also take the role of Paul in this relationship and encourage those (especially) young people who experience the same struggles.

This practice of "laying on of the hands of the eldership" served to both commission and equip Timothy by the power of the Holy Spirit. It had a weight which served as an anchor to Timothy during particularly stormy or tumultuous times. Timothy was commissioned unto this ministry by those he loved and respected. This experience was a mile-marker which he could recall in order to reassure himself that he was indeed called to this ministry.

As we serve the Lord in any capacity, it is vital to know that the Lord has called us and that He has given us the gift of His spirit. Without this authority behind us, we cannot hope to succeed in any ministry. By the same token, when we have this assurance, there is no need to fear.

In the spirit of discipleship, we ought also take the role of Paul on this subject by exhorting younger ministers ?not to neglect the gift? as well. It is easy for one young in the faith, to begin to question even those things which formerly seemed unshakeable. This is why it is especially important to help those we love and mentor to build a solid foundation on the promises of God and His calling in their life. This does not necessarily mean having a formal commissioning ceremony, but it does mean investing in their ministry and praying for them openly. When you hear a word from the Lord it is always powerful but it is especially powerful when that word comes from the mouth of another whom you regard as a spiritual father (or mother). Those prophetic words that come outside of ourselves are more difficult to doubt.

If there are those in your life whom you consider spiritual children, be sure to pray for them often and with their knowledge. Seek the Lord on their behalf and share with them if the Lord directs you to do so. Be the church and lift them up.

Father thank you for Your promises. Thank you for your gifts and for the prophecies that You give. As we seek to serve You, may we meditate on the gifts that YOU give devoting ourselves entirely to them so that we are filled with Your spirit rather than our own wisdom and skills. I pray that when we experience trials and doubts begin to creep in that we would remember the promises You?ve made to us directly and through the mouths of others. Likewise, Father, may we encourage and exhort those whom You have entrusted to us. We pray all of this, Lord, that You may be glorified both in and through us and that growth and maturity would be evident to all. Thank you again, Father for the gracious gifts of salvation and your Spirit, for the promise of sanctification and of eternity.

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