Tend to Yourself
Excerpt from I Timothy 4: 10 – 20
“Tend to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson
Out in my neck of the woods, we’ve enjoyed a completely unexpected playoff run by our heretofore hapless football team, the Seattle Seahawks. I’ve been interested in listening to new Seahawk coach, Pete Carroll.
When asked by media about the week’s upcoming opponent, Carroll 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.
When I become scattered, preoccupied with others, call me back, dear Lord, to your calling for me, your purpose for me. Help me to “tend to myself” in the right way. Amen.
About the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com.
Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; [the Lord] upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– Psalm 146:7-9
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