Lecture 2 – Prevailing Dispostition

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II. In Its Prevailing Disposition
We will now address eight different aspects of the disposition of the task
A. Introduction

1. A definition of disposition: “the normal or prevailing aspect of a man’s nature and the essential quality of his nature.”

2. An explanation of the selective principle employed

a. The Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect pattern and exemplar of the disposition of effective oversight
b. The apostle Paul and others in so far as they imitate those graces which are found in their perfection in our Lord Jesus Christ

3. Why have I chosen this approach?

a. Because of Christ’s specific identity as the Chief Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, The Good Shepherd and Overseer of our souls and the perfect example of his people in all things

1 Pet. 5:4
Heb. 13:20
John 10:11
1 Pet. 2:25
1 Jn. 2:6
1 Pet. 2:21

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 16, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), p. 49.

b. Because of the explicit command to follow and imitate the apostle and those who follow and imitate Christ

1 Cor. 4:16; 1Cor. 11:1
Phil. 3:17; Phil. 4:9
2 Thess. 3:9
Acts 20:35

4. A confession of frustration and fear

a. It is impossible to be exhaustive in dealing with the subject of the disposition which must characterize the task of oversight and yet do justice to the whole unit.

b. In being selective there is the fear of being arbitrarily or prejudicially selective.

c. Be constantly on the lookout in your reading of the Word for any major characteristic which may have been missed. When you discover it, seek to incorporate it into the fabric of your own disposition.

B. The specific elements of the disposition required

1. A disposition of assertive servanthood

a. As manifested in our Lord Jesus Christ

Lk. 6:46-47
Mt. 28:19-20
Jn. 13:13
Mt. 20:25-28

Don A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), p. 20.

Jn. 13:1-17
1 Pet. 5:5
Eph. 5:23
Lk. 12:35-37

b. As manifested in the apostle Paul and others

2 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 1:1
1 Cor. 9:19
2 Cor. 10:8ff
1 Pet. 5:3
Phil. 2:20-21

2. A disposition of meekness with the attendants of lowliness and gentleness I commend a careful word study of the various words translated meekness, lowliness, and gentleness.

a. Mt. 11:25-29
b. Meekness is joined in a similar context to lowliness on the one hand and gentleness on the other.

Eph. 4:2
2 Tim. 2:24-25
2 Cor. 10:1

c. Conclusion

1) Meekness is the disposition characterized by an absence of carnal self-assertiveness which issues in self-will and ill-will.

1 Cor. 4:21; 1 Cor. 10:1
Gal. 6:1
2 Tim. 2:25
Titus 3:2

2) Lowliness is the absence of arrogance and pride of mind.

The word was used only in a negative way in the secular world.
The word is used to describe humility in the N. T.

Acts 20:19
Phil. 2:3
Col. 3:12
1 Pet. 5:5

3) Gentleness is the absence of harshness and insensitivity.

2 Cor. 10:1
1 Tim 3:3
Jam. 3:17


1) Remember, we are dealing with this matter of “disposition” with primary reference to the work of shepherding and oversight of the people of God.  It is this dimension of our pastoral labors that we must learn how to manifest these graces.

Gal. 6:1
1 Tim. 6:11
Gal. 5:23
2 Tim. 2:24-25

2) Without diluting any of the biblical concepts of rule, oversight, and government, this disposition of assertive servanthood renders the eldership a continual diaconal service.

3) The needs of God’s people are a constant summons to the selfless expenditure of your time, energy, gifts, and prayers and tears. And this service must be rendered expecting nothing in return from them. We must always remember, the people do not exist for us, but we exist for them.

3. A disposition of vulnerable compassion (or compassionate vulnerability).

a. Christ

Mt. 9:36
Mk. 1:41
Lk. 7:13

b. Paul

Acts 20:31
2 Cor. 6:11
2 Cor. 7:3


1)  As you are called upon to deal with battered, bruised, and twisted men and women, there is no place for clinical objectivity in your dealings with them.

2)  Because the hurts and pains of God’s people will become your hurts and pains, you will be tempted to protect your self by developing a callous on your soul.

3)  If any of God’s people are called upon to obey Rom. 12:15, we are called to this above others.

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 16, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), pp. 87-88.

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