Today I will continue to address the topic of leadership responsibility in the church. I am writing concerning Paul’s letters to Timothy in regard to his responsibility as a leader. This letter to Timothy included Timothy’s role in responsibility as well as those leaders affiliated with Timothy in the work of ministry. These letters establish a principle, pattern, and value for us as leaders in the church today. Timothy was to set order for honor and submission in the church. He was to understand his responsibilities as an overseeing elder and require the same of others appointed to the same call of apt to teach, or administrative, leadership
1 Timothy 3:1-6 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
An overseeing leader must first understand that the role of leadership is one of responsibility. It is not a position of hierarchy. It is a position of serving the body of Christ and it is a great honor and a good work. The role of an overseer is not one merely based upon charismatic gifting, administrative skill, qualification of education, or mere experience in ministry. It is one of character. A leader’s personal life is directly connected to their ability to lead. They must seek to be blameless. This doesn’t mean that they are perfect, but it does mean that they seek to do their best in all things. When faced with things that need to change in their own lives they willingly embrace the process of change. They know their righteousness is in Christ and they depend upon the power of Christ in them to empower them to not only grow in their ability of gifting but also their testimony of character. They are the husbands of one wife. This is not meant to be a law concerning marriage and divorce, nor do I believe that it is only inclusive to men in ministry, it is a present quality of character in leadership. Whether it is a man or a woman in a position of leadership; the principle, pattern, and value to be gained from these verses is one of covenant. It is not meant to be a legal requirement for leadership. We have all had failures in our past in some way; the question is where are we in the present? A leader must know that their ability to keep covenant in their own family relationships is directly connected to their ability to lead others in the church to know how to stay at the table of covenant. When faced with challenges in their personal lives they willingly seek the empowerment of God’s grace to give them a testimony of a growing, maturing, life-giving covenant. This takes both a man and a woman working together for the greater testimony of the two as one. This gives a leader the grace to empower others in the matters of relationship in life.
A leader is to be temperate – a term for being vigilant, circumspect, and self-controlled. A leader knows how to be heedful of their circumstances with a view towards the potential outcome of any situation in their lives. They are dependent upon Christ in them to give them the needed testimony for the sake of others. They must be sober-minded – to be modest, chaste, and discrete in their way of live. They must demonstrate good behavior to others. They must be hospitable, demonstrating that they willingly live for the well being of others. An overseeing leader (bishop) must be able to teach. I don’t believe that this is merely teaching Scripter. Anyone should be able to teach Scripture in some way. A leader must be able to hear the direction of God for the church and set the direction that others can follow. They are like a dad or a mom in the family that is capable of teaching the children the way in which they must live. They know the family values of Christ and they lead others to embrace the attributes of the family of God, the desires of the family of God, the vision of the family of God, and the destiny. They must not be given to wine. I believe that this is a testimony concerning their desires or personal indulgences. Leaders don’t seek their own pleasures, but live to help others be free from things that produce bondages in people’s lives. Surely a leader must not be a drunkard, but it includes the principle, pattern, and value of living for others and not their own personal indulgences. A leader must not be violent, but demonstrate a spirit and actions of kindness, peace, and love. They are not greedy for money – simply stated they must not lead for personal gain at the expense of others. They must be gentle, demonstrating a willingness to care for others above themselves. This means a they avoid quarrels and do not demonstrate an aggressive attitude towards others. They must be content with what God has given to them and they must not be covetous of what belongs to someone else. They lead their own personal lives well, because they are required to seek God’s direction and grace to lead His house. They set an example of tending to the business of family so that others can follow their example in tending to the business of their own families. Surely children are responsible to make their own decisions in life and the children of a leader may decide not to walk in their ways. This does not disqualify a leader. If a leader is doing their best to lead in the path of life and they demonstrate the character of Christ in that process they are not to be held accountable if their children choose a path of failure. God is a good Father and sets an example for His children to follow yet many choose not to walk in the path of His way. This does not disqualify God from being Father. The scrutiny is not upon what the children do, but upon how a leader leads. People are imperfect living in imperfect situations with imperfect realities. No one is measured by the choices that others make, but they are measured by their own personal example, attitude, and actions in regard to their willingness to live for the sake of their families. Knowing how to rule in your household is a testimony of character, not one of legalistic law. A leader must know how to walk through difficult and challenging things so they can lead to help others walk through all that they must walk through in life. A leader is not a novice in the matters of family, relationships, and walking through the challenges of relationship in life. Most of life is about relationships, not works of ministry. The pressures of life and having to walk through the difficult matters of human connections are a prerequisite to qualifying a leader to lead. They must not be prideful and fall into the deception of the devil who thought his gifting and independence was more important than his relationship with God and his responsibilities before God.
A leader must also have a good testimony to people who do not know God. How do they present themselves in the world they live in?
1 Timothy 3:6 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson