The New Testament is vague with the words describing church leadership. One is ‘bishop’ or ‘overseer.’ The denominations with independent local churches might interpret this as elders in their congregation. Other denominations with accountability to a head office might call them bishops or other terms. In my thinking, the structure is not nearly as important as the qualifications because those in leadership cannot lead beyond their own level of maturity and godliness. The standard is high!
Paul outlines this in his first letter to Timothy. He says these men must be good, moral people with the following qualifications:
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (a one-woman man), sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:2–7)
I’m not an elder or a leader and never have been, but it is my opinion that if this describes someone who is supposed to lead me, then I should follow what he teaches and exemplifies in my own life. This means I am also to be above reproach, not a person who can be criticized. That is a tall order!
Also, I’m to be a one-man woman, not a flirt or interested in men in an inappropriate manner. Think of the problems avoided in the church if this described not only the leaders but everyone else.
Sober-minded means ‘not given to extremes’ which could cover food, drink, and all sorts of other things. Self-controlled describes the moderation that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit. Respectable is just that; having the respect of others.
Hospitable intimidates me. My mother was such an expert in this that I’ve always felt diminished in her shadow. I can be cordial and generous but it does not come naturally, only with deliberate decisions. Able to teach is easier for me — to the point that I sometimes need to be quiet and let others lead in this area.
I do not drink and am not violent or quarrelsome — praise God for that. I don’t think that I have a desire for acquiring wealth because the generosity of God is a total amazement. He always takes care of our needs and then some.
Verse 4 about managing the household gives me mixed emotions. Our children have made professions of faith but are Christian parents ever satisfied with that? Or is it just me? My spiritual gifts come with this ‘never good enough’ that characterized the prophets. I not only pray for the godliness and maturity of my adult children, their children and our grandkids, but for everyone else that I know. This passage does not mean Christian leaders should desire to manage their household but that they actually do it. I can do the house part but am never satisfied with the people part.
The warnings about conceit and reputation add another dimension to be a mature Christian, worthy to lead others in their walk with Jesus. The idea is that the devil should not be able to rightly accuse me of anything or trap me into being a jerk so that those outside the church are turned off by anything I do or say.
Lord Jesus, I will never be a church elder or in any place of leadership like the description just read, but I want to live in such a way that pleases You. Thank You for giving me a heart that desires to always be growing more like You and to always do well in whatever You give me. The challenges never end, but neither does Your grace and mercy.
Today’s thankful list . . .
Another ‘summer’ day when it is normally autumn.
Christian music playing all day.
Fresh dinner rolls.
My hairdresser who does a super job.
Another quilt nearly finished.
Mexican food and the ability to make it.