2.21.14 The Problem with the Ordained. . .

Epiphany- Day 46

Psalm 107:1-16 NLT

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
from east and west,
from north and south.

 Some wandered in the wilderness,
lost and homeless.
Hungry and thirsty,
they nearly died.
“LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress.
He led them straight to safety,
to a city where they could live.
Let them praise the LORD for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
For he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,
imprisoned in iron chains of misery.
They rebelled against the words of God,
scorning the counsel of the Most High.
That is why he broke them with hard labor;
they fell, and no one was there to help them.
“LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;
he snapped their chains.
Let them praise the LORD for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;
he cut apart their bars of iron.

1 Timothy 5:17-25 NRSV

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.” Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgment, while the sins of others follow them there. So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.


“Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” So often in the church, ordination is carried like a privileged status. The distinction itself is what sets people apart rather than the particular work and the gifted relationships the ordained are called to. One is ordained, and because they are ordained they begin to assert a subversive form of privilege built around their “role” in which they thirst for honor. (Note the text says the elders “who rule well” should be considered worthy of double honor.) Rather than being “set apart” among the people for the sacred ministry of community building, they separate themselves from the people through the distinction of their role. This separateness produces a soul cancer which slowly erodes the most important quality a leader can possess, purity of heart. Holiness simply cannot exist in isolation. As a result, this skewed approach to “set-apart-ness” leads the ordained to a secret life of clandestine participation in the sins of others. Their gifted anointing leaves them long before their perceived authority. This is why the clergy, as a class of leaders, are increasingly bereft of honor in our time. (and perhaps in all times)

Ordination, in fact, must create just the opposite scenario; setting people apart whose lives manifest a purity of heart anchored in Word and Spirit and whose ministries demonstrate the fruit of God’s kingdom borne from the rigorous work of cultivating a community characterized by real relationships. They must be real people cultivating real relationships.

And we should be clear, the assertion of a ridiculously long and rigorous process which rewards candidates for their persevering compliance rather than their promising creativity doesn’t satisfy the admonition to “not ordain anyone hastily.” Just saying. ;0)

Why is this so important? Because we must have leaders who can “hear” and “see.” Otherwise we are the blind leading the blind.


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