Any first-year Greek student can tell you that "desire" in 1 Timothy 3:1 translates epithumei, a word that you usually find translated as "lust" in your English Bible. It denotes a longing that, depending upon its object, can either be sinful (i.e., lust, covetousness) or godly (i.e., desire, passion). So Paul is here expressing of what any man called to the role of overseer (episkopes) in Christ's flock is acutely aware, that his calling is a passion and desire he longs to fulfill!
Yet, Dave Harvey from Sovereign Grace has helpfully put this God-given desire in perspective with God's gracious providence (cf. Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11). Confronting the "called" with the reality that calling to ministry is a mandate to prepare and not a summons to launch, he asks these very challenging questions:
May the Lord help us who long to serve the Church of Christ as an undershepherd to protect our souls from the sin of presumption and to give ourselves to the process of preparation, that He might be glorified in our lives and future ministries.
Do you recognize the hand of God the Caller in placing the burden of calling in your life? Do you trust that where you are in life today – no matter how far it is from where you think you should be – does not limit God’s ability to accomplish his will in your life? Are you responding to your present situation with faith? Would you be known as a grateful man? Do you trust God to both clarify your call and confirm his direction? Are you content with the process you are in? Are you watching your doctrine and life closely (1 Ti 4:16), making the kinds of investments in both the process of sanctification and the deepening of your doctrine that would testify that you are using this season of life to its maximum benefit?
- Dave Harvey, Am I Called? Discerning the Summons to Ministry, p. 43.