An Inside Scoop from 3 John
Kerry S. Doyal – www.GetGraced.org
Okay, I am going to indulge myself. With October being “Pastor Appreciation Month,” I am going to share some ways you can make your pastor happy. To make this as legit as possible, I will use 3 John as my guide.
Lest you think this is a sneaky way to drop hints to the church I am blessed to pastor, let me tell you what they did. These dear souls sent my wife & me away for a restful get away, and took care of our kids while we were gone. Better still, they are generous and kind to us all year, not just in October.
The Beloved Disciple, the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest Three, takes on a different role in 3 John. Writing as an Elder (Pastor), he tells his dear friend Gaius several things that bring him great joy and sadness as a spiritual leader. Any spiritual leader in your life would be thrilled if these things were true of you.
First, continue in the truth. John wrote Gaius: It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (vs. 3, 4 - NIV).
Talk about a happy pastor! John shared his desire that Gaius would have physical and financial well being (vs. 2), but his joy came from matters of the Spirit. The report that John seemed to seek and savor most was that Gaius was staying true to the faith (orthodoxy) and putting shoe leather to it (orthopraxy).
God-honoring beliefs and behavior are two wings of an airplane. Pick which one is optional? Too many act like holding the right doctrines is enough. Forget that they live like moral pigs or never show love for others. They “got saved, baptized and joined the church,” what more do you want? See Matthew 7:20-27; James 1:21-2; 2:14-26; 1 John 3:16-20.
John was also joyful that Gaius showed consistent love in his practical acts of kindness towards others (hospitality). “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love” (vs. 5, 6).
Traveling teachers needed safe lodging to assist in their ministry. Believers were to open their homes and hearts to them, even if their home was not spotless, fancy or in perfect order. Southern Hospitality is over rated when it is hampered by insecurities that lead to closed doors.
Gaius also made John’s day by doing what he could to help spread the gospel. “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (vs. 8). Gaius many not have been a gifted evangelist or teacher, but by sharing his home, he shared in the work of the Gospel. He became a team member.
No one does gospel work alone. Behind every Billy Graham, or pastor are dozens – no – hundreds of silent, faithful workers. By giving, praying, serving each are indispensable co-laborers for the truth. When we give of our time, skills, homes, lives, we are sharing in the work of the gospel.
Here is a backwards way to make your pastor smile: by NOT following the example of your local Diotrepehes. Bluntly stated, do not be an arrogant and rude Church Boss.
“Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us… gossiping maliciously about us… he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (vs. 9, 10). Talk about Chutzpah!
Families that run churches ruin churches. Strong leaders who dominate eventually desecrate God’s holy work. If everything has to meet your approval, I wonder if you meet God’s? How many good men are no longer in the ministry because of a distrusting, power hungry control freak?
Conversely, people who are pleasant coworkers with their pastors imitate good and godly examples. “Do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (vs. 11). Since monkeys see and monkeys do, make sure you pick good monkeys to see. People like Demetruis.
“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone — and even by the truth itself” (vs. 12). He had a great reputation – one that was deserved. Even Truth found lips and words to speak well of this man. Gaius was shown a stark contrast of models. Picking the right one pleased his Pastor.
In closing this shortest letter (postcard) in the New Testament, John writes: “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face (vs.14). Is the thought of a reunion with you by a previous pastor a pleasurable point for him to ponder? Or is it something to avoid if he wants a good night’s sleep?
Do you need to thank a spiritual parent in your life: a Pastor (current or previous), a Sunday School teacher, a parent, a Camp or Youth leader? Go for it! Let them reap some of what they have sown.
Pastors - Spiritual Parents of all stripes - do you need to express joy in a spiritual child? How encouraging these words from John must have been to Gaius. Let’s remember to share with others the joy they bring us.
October, the “Official” Pastor Appreciation month is almost over. However, even if you run out of days, I doubt a late letter or call of thanks would be a problem.