Down in our neck of the woods, in the recent past, when asked what time the Duke football game started the response was “What time can you be here?” It is amazing to me – and Shirley has to keep reminding me – that we need to honor those Duke football players because they go out there every Saturday – with very little fan support – and play their hearts out.
When asked by media about the week’s upcoming opponent, the coach typically says something like, “It’s not about them, it’s about us. It’s about us playing our game. We have to stay focused on our own work. We just need to play the way we’re capable of playing and the rest will take care of itself. Our focus is really ourselves.”
When Paul wrote to the young pastor, Timothy, he urged something similar. “Tend to yourself,” Paul advised, “and to your teaching.” Paul was definitely not urging that Timothy coddle himself or be self-absorbed. He was saying, “Mind your calling and work, do those faithfully and well. That’s the first order of business.”
In some ways, it’s odd advice, whether for a football team or for Christians and church leaders. We want to pay attention to others, whether to an opposing team or the many needs of other people. We imagine that being Christian means being concerned only about others and their needs. And at other times we pay far too much attention to how or what other people are doing, to their advancement or income, especially when they appear to us to be doing better than we are!
More important, as Paul tells Timothy, is to focus on your own particular work, your own particular calling. “Tend to yourself,” be responsible for yourself and the service to which God has called you. Pastors tend to your work as leaders and teachers of the faith. Do your own work and leave the rest to God.
Lord, when I become scattered, preoccupied with other things, call me back to your calling for me, your purpose for me. Help me to “tend to myself” in the right way. Amen.
Grace and Peace