The little letters of John the Apostle are so helpful in giving a glimpse into the pastoral heart. Care for those you lead and teach. He uses the first two to establish the church in love, the vital ingredient of a life in Christ. Then in the third letter he leans on truth.
Of course it is the truth of the gospel, of the kingdom of Christ and his reign. But I think it also pertains to all truth. Having character enough to wade through what is heard or seen and landing our perspective on the truth. Not our preference, not our opinion, but truth. John even calls out someone by name for putting the self before truth… dangerous territory.
But it is John’s expression of joy that got me today as I read it. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4 (ESV)
His greatest joy is being told how his children (those that he has fathered in ministry) walk in the truth. They don’t frequent in conspiracy or opinion or as he calls it “wicked nonsense” (v. 10), they are firmly planted in truth. They cast off the cultural version of “your truth” and understand there can only be one truth.
I understand this joy first hand. In a year where everything seems to be turned upside down and the prevalence of false narratives abound, there is something encouraging and joy-inducing when those you shepherd cling to truth, champion it, and share it with others. And because I am learning to recognize this of the pastoral heart, I am committed all the more to pursuing truth as an example. After all, that is the biblical call.
So whoever your pastor or shepherd is, think of them as John the Apostle, walk in truth. With clear eyes, and an open heart, be confident in the good news of Jesus and search out of real truth wherever it may be found.