One of the hot-button issues in the modern Western Church in recent decades has been the involvement of women in pastoral ministry. I'd like to make a few brief observations today based on our reading in Numbers 3. Maybe his is timely as well because it happens to be Mother's Day.
Look at the account of the Levites which we read today. Notice that the tribe of Levi, those who are not included in the Aaronic priesthood, have a special function before the Lord. They are not offering sacrifices or serving in the temple in the manner of priests, but they have their own unique calling. They are of great use in God's kingdom. They are, in fact, indispensable. These descendants of Levi, a great host of people, are specially appointed to a particular type of service. They are given gifts in accordance with the use to which the Lord will put them. They are absolutely serving the Lord in what they do, despite not being priests.
Do we overvalue or perhaps undervalue the pastoral office? We seem to wish to make it an office that doesn't have any distinctives. And when this office, which is biblically given to those identified as elders or bishops, is considered an office which should include those people who don't meet that qualification, the office is simultaneously devalued and elevated. It is elevated in that it is considered the most worthy and important work of the Christian. It is devalued in that it is considered the service that everyone should be able to do, regardless of any biblical qualifications. This should not be. As in the case of Numbers chapter 3, let us realize that all sorts of service before the Lord is noble. Let us remember that some have one type of service and others have another service, and that the Lord has appointed the qualifications for those roles. Let us rejoice in seeing some people in roles that we ourselves never hold. Let us never think too highly or too poorly of ourselves due to the role our Lord has given us. It is all of his grace.