Archive for February 3rd, 2011

1 Timothy 3

 1 Timothy 3 talks about two leadership roles in the church – overseers (elders) and deacons.  Paul writes to Timothy in very clear terms about the kind of people that should fill these two roles.  They are different in responsibility – as overseers are focused on being spiritual leaders providing the direction and oversight of the body, while deacons are focused on serving and getting the work of the body done.  Both are vital roles and needed to have an effective church body.

So here is what Paul lists as the requirements “the office of overseer”:

–       “above reproach

–       husband of one wife

–       sober-minded

–       self-controlled

–       respectable

–       hospitable

–       able to teach

–       not a drunkard

–       not violent but gentle

–       not quarrelsome

–       not a lover of money

–       manage his own household well

–       keeping his children submissive

–       not be a recent convert

–       well thought of by outsiders

That limits the options doesn’t it.  Quite a list of traits that Paul puts down as necessary.  But these folks are the guiding leaders in a church so their role is critical.  It probably is not taken as seriously by many churches today as Paul intends. 

He goes on to give us a similar list for the role of deacon.  Check this out:

–       “dignified

–       not double-tongued

–       not addicted to much wine

–       not greedy for dishonest gain

–       clear conscience

–       tested first

–       blameless

–       husband of one wife

–       managing their children and their own households well

Not quite as long a list, but still not a simple list to live by.  Most areas are similar to the list for overseers, just a few less on the list for deacons.  But in both cases how we live at home is part of the qualification.  One wife (that is a handful by itself isn’t it) and submissive or well managed kids are quite a task list in itself.

It is interesting that Paul tells us that “their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things”.  So not only is the character of the husband critical in these roles, but also that of their family, especially their wives.  So why does Paul write about this as it applies to so few?  That is what I hear often when I teach this passage.  The reality is that God desires all of us as Christ Followers to live by these standards so we are ready and quailified to serve when He calls us to do so.  You can’t just fix this list once you decide it is time to do your part in serving the church.  These are life long qualities – things we have to work at for a long period of time.  So the key is to begin immediately to achieve this kind of lifestyle.   I can hear some of you saying that you’ll start by working on your wife.  Wrong answer – you start by looking in the mirror and seeing how you measure up to God’s desired lifestyle.  If you are working to live this way – you are on God’s path to success!

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