Dear Leader, part 14 (Problem People in the Church)

This exercise is a continuation of a series we started at Grace with our leadership while I served as interim there. For those who are not pastors or deacons, but who lead in some capacity in any arena of life, these books are a tremendous resource in Scripture. I encourage all of those who would be called leaders or who oversee to take advantage of these notes geared specifically toward leadership or roles with much responsibility.

2 Timothy 2

v. 20-26

Paul, keeping Timothy’s tears in mind, wrote encouraging him in his ministerial depression. He has encouraged Timothy to share in the suffering of Christ. There were people in the midst of the organized church who were not elect, but Timothy, like Paul, was being encouraged to suffer for the elect.

In context, then, when Paul writes that in a large house there are vessels for honorable and dishonorable use, he is referring specifically to the organized church in a sinful world. If anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument set apart and useful to the master. This is impossible without the election of God. It is why, in verse 25, Paul writes that perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then, in verse 26, they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil. Vessels of wrath in the organized church, just as vessels of wrath in the world at large, cannot come to their senses unless God grants repentance leading to knowledge of the truth.

Much of our frustration with people (yes, even in the organized church) comes when, for whatever reason, we can’t seem to get others to understand. We can’t get others to understand. God must do that and He does so at His own discretion. This frees us, fellow leaders, to operate with even more grace. We understand that there are lost people in the organized church. We understand that many of them are vessels of wrath. We reject foolish and ignorant disputes. This is why one of the qualifications of a church elder (pastor) is that he is not quarrelsome and that he is able to teach. We instruct our opponents with gentleness knowing that the God of grace may, in fact, grant them repentance. We are suffering servants for the good of others. We do not weep in vain. Neither will our tears be without the gracious reward of the Father according to His own grace.

When thinking about church discipline, then, we know that even discipline must come from the very grace that God sings over us. Patient endurance, long-suffering, servanthood, gentleness, instruction, and faith in God to move the hearts of men as only He can do are character qualities being produced in us through our tears. We are being sanctified through this process. We are being prepared for the roles God has for us on this earth and the earth to come. God is working all things together.

*Please take time to pray for the families of the rising number of pastors who have committed suicide due to ministerial depression. The enemy is at work, and he is at work especially against those who do genuine, Gospel-centered ministry. Rekindle.

*please note, if you experience depression because of a mental illness or because of a chemical imbalance, please seek medical help. If depression is constant, please seek the help of a good psychologist. Circumstantial depression (which I am addressing here) is not the same as clinical depression.

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