Archive for December 19th, 2017

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3 has Paul addressing the topic of leadership.  He specifically addresses two key positions – that of an ‘overseer’ (bishop/elder/pastor) as well as that of a ‘deacon’ (worker/server).  He begins by defining what it takes to be a good overseer.  “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task”.  It’s important to note first of all that leadership is something to aspire to.  This isn’t just a description of preachers, but those who ‘watch over’ the church.  Clarke wrote “The state has its monarch, the Church has its bishop; one should govern according to the laws of the land, the other according to the word of God.”  First and foremost any leader must be under the authority of God and His Word.

Paul goes on to make a list of characteristics that define this oversight leadership role.  “Therefore an overseer must be:

  • above reproach
  • the 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
  • must manage his own household well, with all dignity 
  • keeping his children submissive
  • not be a recent convert
  • must be well thought of by outsiders”

Paul doesn’t focus on the structure of leadership in the church, but rather the character of the leaders themselves.  God has specific qualifications for leaders.  They shouldn’t be chosen at random, or by merely a willingness to say yes when asked to serve.  Leadership is about character.  And God gives us a very defined list of what matters to Him when it comes to character.

But it doesn’t end here with defining the character of an overseer.  Paul goes on to define the character of deacons or those who lead by serving.  These are typically not the folks who are up front but quietly doing the work of the ministry behind the scenes.  They make it happen.  “Deacons likewise:

  • must be dignified
  • not double-tongued
  • not addicted to much wine
  • not greedy for dishonest gain
  • must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience]
  • be tested first
  • prove themselves blameless
  • must be dignified
  • not slanderers
  • sober-minded
  • faithful in all things
  • the husband of one wife
  • managing their children and their own households well

There are some similarities between the two lists for certain.  Leadership matters to God, and to His church.  Some believe that anyone can serve in the church, but clearly God has very high standards for both those out front and those in the shadows when it comes to leadership.  Character matters no matter what we are doing.

Paul goes on to remind us that God rewards those who lead faithfully.  “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus”.  Not only does God remember faithful service, but it is a great reward for us as we serve too.  Some feel the role of deacon which is often done quietly and behind the scenes is not all that important.  But the reality is that there will be far more who serve in that role that receive a great reward than overseers.  There are far more needed to serve, and we have to remember to equate servanthood with leadership.  The ultimate leader is a servant leader and the role of deacon affords both.

%d bloggers like this: