We’re always intrigued by the message in a bottle possibility. Well here is one that has been traveling the seas for some 1,400 years. The world and church was so radically different that it might seem like a message form another planet, but there’s some valuable advice for pastors today.
It comes from Pope Gregory (the Great, c. 590), Pope/Bishop of Rome. Gregory was a part of a growing centralization of theology and authority of the church (i.e. papacy). One of his legacies was a document concerning pastoral roles and responsibilities, the Book of Pastoral Care. It had a positive and lasting effect wherever it was read and remains surprisingly relevant today.
In all, it covers four themes: the selection of clergy, the life that the pastor ought to live, how to deal with different types of people that the pastor will encounter; and the importance of the pastor guarding himself against egotism and personal ambition. Here is a glimpse concerning the last theme:
“The pastor should be discreet in keeping silence, profitable in speech; lest he either utter what ought to be suppressed or suppress what he ought to utter. For, as incautious speaking leads into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. The pastor ought also to understand how commonly vices pass themselves off as virtues.”
In short… know when to speak, when to shut up, and beware of passing off possible vices in your life as virtues. Pretty much spot-on for church leaders today.