Monday, March 19, 2018

Timothy, These Are the Indispensable Characters of A Leader


"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money"
(1 Timothy 3:1-3,
NIV)

The most important character for very Christian is holiness. But for Timothy or Church's leaders, God's Word lays down some special standards for those who are in leadership positions. These characters are very important and indispensable for Christian leaders. "Overseer" also means "bishop" or "elder" (emphasizing spiritual maturity) mentioned in the New Testament are the same office and also apply to the pastor. When I read 1 Timothy 3:1-3, the word "above reproach" or "blameless" make me want to quit the ministry. But the word "he desires a noble task" is an encouragement to stay. Dear leaders, you must be:

#1 Above Reproach. No more quitting! Good news, Paul was not talking about sinless-perfection. It simply and plainly means that a leader who led others spiritually must be blameless. There is to be nothing in his life toward which anyone – believers and unbelievers alike – can point an accusing finger against him (of course there will be lies, rumours, and gossips). In Greek, the word means "to take hold of." Thus, there is to be nothing that anyone can take hold of to accuse the man of God that would keep him from leading others spiritually.

#2 The Husband of But One Wife. There are few interpretations of this one. As for me, I understand it as being a one-woman man, have been married only once (unless his wife is dead, in which case the Scripture permit him to remarriage), and he should not be a divorced man. Why? Because verse 4-5 only make sense when I interpreted it that way. How about young and unmarried man? I have no clear Scriptural support but I believe that as long as he is "not a recent convert" (v.6) and have all the characters but single, he is qualified to be a leader in the church. Paul, who wrote this letter was not married.

#3 Temperate. This word also translated as "vigilant." It carries the idea of sound judgment. This can refer to everything from a sound judgment in his personal discipline to sound judgment in doctrinal matters.

#4 Self-Controlled. Or "sober" which refer to "sober-minded." Now, this doesn't mean he must not have a sense of humor. Being humorous is one way for leaders to gain trust and build a relationship. But what Paul would mean, I believe, was to remind leaders that the business of God has called to "overseer" is the most important and serious business in the world. Therefore, this duty requires men who are self-control, sober and serious about it.

#5 Respectable. Most English Bibles translated this word as "well-order" or something about "of good behavior." This is not only referred to the order of the Word that he preaches but to his whole manner of life. As a leader, he needs this! His duties will be so many and responsibilities so great (and he will meet lots of people with many personalities and problems too) that if his life is not ordered he will accomplish nothing. An unrespectable leader will only taint the Name of God he preached.

#6 Hospitable. This characteristic is not only very important for a leader, it should always characterize the Lord's people. In the New Testament, the Greek word literally means “love of strangers.” Hospitality is a virtue that is both commanded and commended throughout the Bible.

#7 Able to Teach. In Christian leadership: Not all teachers should be leaders, but all leaders (pastors) should be teachers. In Ephesians 4:11, pastor and teacher is refer as one ministry. If he is to be a leader he had to be able to teach God's Word.

#8 Not Given to Drunkenness. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul shows that "the acts of the sinful nature" include "drunkenness" together with "idolatry" and "witchcraft." No self-controlled and respectable leader is also a drunkard!

#9 Not Violent But Gentle. To be violent is to be out of control. A leader not only need to be self-control, he needs to be controlled by the Spirit of God. When the Spirit-controlled him, he will be gentle (not soft) and kind toward others. A leader who is gentle can win others back to Christ. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Galatians 6:1). A violent leader will only chase people away from Christ.

#10 Not Quarrelsome. A godly leader will never promote quarrels or foolish arguments. Whether he teach, preach or led others, he should listen to people's questions and complaints respectfully while avoiding foolish debates. Paul reminded this warning again in his second letter: "[The Lord's servant] must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (1 Timothy 2:24).

#11 Not A Lover of Money. This warning (4th "not") is so much needed today as it was during Timothy's time. Today it is very easy for the man of God to let economic pressures so preoccupy his thinking that money has a more important place in his life than it ought to have. One of the signs of the end time is people will be "lovers of money" (2 Timothy 3:2). To false teachers and leaders, Paul warned again: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people [leaders who "want to get rich", v.9], eager for money, have wandered from their faith…" (1 Timothy 6:10). If Christian apologetics can become quarrelsome, Christian leaders can be trapped into prosperity ‘false' gospel. On the other hand, churches should do their best in meeting the leader’s need so that these pressures will not cause him to stumble and even possibly denied his faith and calling.

I like how Eugene Peterson paraphrase these verses in The Message: "If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money hunger." So, as a leader, do you have all of the characteristics above? Or, when you choose leaders, do you take all of the above into considerations?

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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