1 Timothy 4:14-16 English Standard Version
14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
While meditating on the issues of progress I was led to these passages. Progress is an observation state. It is not one in which we see things as we pass them, it is where those who are stationary get to see us pass them on our journey.
Keeping a close watch on ourselves is not a matter of measuring our progress as much as in checking our behaviors and making sure our actions match our theology, our teachings. What this means is the forward progress has to be in line with the Word of God. Forward progress away from God’s Word is heading in the wrong direction.
The bottom line here is “save both yourself and your hearers.” If our gifts lead us into shepherding others, then we best be leading them in the right direction. If our gifts lead us to teaching then we must teach them truth and not some vain notion. If our gift is prophetic then we must not abuse the gift by installing our own judgements.
What should be noted is the order Paul sets before Timothy, the elders recognize our gifts and see to their identification, training, and use within the administration of our churches. We do not get to practice them in another’s pasture.
The second point is vital to our progress, the eldership must be involved in seeing to the identification of our gifts for the health of the church.