Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leadership in the Church

Today, I want to share a scripture from 1 Timothy and then discuss how this scripture may impact us (churches) on who we place into roles of leadership. We will take a look at 1 Timothy 3:1-7. We will look at the scripture from 2 different versions: Young's Literal and New Life.

1 Timothy 3
Young's Literal Translation

1 Stedfast [is] the word: If any one the oversight doth long for, a right work he desireth; 2 it behoveth, therefore, the overseer to be blameless, of one wife a husband, vigilant, sober, decent, a friend of strangers, apt to teach, 3 not given to wine, not a striker, not given to filthy lucre, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money, 4 his own house leading well, having children in subjection with all gravity, 5 (and if any one his own house [how] to lead hath not known, how an assembly of God shall he take care of?) 6 not a new convert, lest having been puffed up he may fall to a judgment of the devil; 7 and it behoveth him also to have a good testimony from those without, that he may not fall into reproach and a snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3
New Life Version

What A Church Leader Must Be Like

1 It is true that if a man wants to be a church leader, he wants to do a good work. 2 A church leader must be a good man. His life must be so no one can say anything against him. He must have only one wife and must be respected for his good living. He must be willing to take people into his home. He must be willing to learn and able to teach the Word of God. 3 He must not get drunk or want to fight. Instead, he must be gentle. He must not have a love for money. 4 He should be a good leader in his own home. His children must obey and respect him. 5 If a man cannot be a good leader in his own home, how can he lead the church? 6 A church leader must not be a new Christian. A new Christian might become proud and fall into sin which is brought on by the devil. 7 A church leader must be respected by people who are not Christians so nothing can be said against him. In that way, he will not be trapped by the devil.

In these scriptures, we see 15 characteristics that an elder should have. I believe the 'key' word is characteristic. Here is the list:

1. Self-Controlled
2. Hospitable
3. Able to teach
4. Not violent but gentle
5. Not quarrelsome
6. Not a lover of money
7. Not a recent convert
8. Has a good reputation with outsiders
9. Above reproach
10. Husband of one wife
11. Temperate
12. Respectable
13. Not given to drunkenness
14. Manages his own family
15. His children obey him

We could argue and debate who wrote this letter and when it was written and who the "real" audience of the letter was intended for. These are all very valueable because it helps us distinguish the context and context is vital. However, for the look into the characteristics; I am going to by-pass that process.

I find it very intriguing that the "qualifications" are more about a persons character and how they live than their skills and how they apply their skills to their "work".

What implications does this have for the church ?

When we as a church are looking to fill deacons, elders, church council members or the various committees that we "need" to fill; how do we look for individuals ?

When there is a staff position that has a vacancy and we are pursuing candidates, what is on the top of our list ? When we as leaders in the church are recruiting "servants/volunteers" who do we target ???

I think that we may need to look at a persons inside a lot more than we normally do.

too many times, we look at their skills, the talents that they bring to the table. We get "awed" by their talents and think how their talents can soar us to the next level. we need to examine their hears and what their actions would be like when they have "power".

Maybe, we would be more 'successful' if we looked at the heart. If we took the look of characteristics and that was our priority. The skill or talent could be learned.

In my case, I know that I want individuals who love God, love others and express a servant's heart and brings a side of gentleness. this is much more important than _______________.

What is the "decision factor" for you ??


Richard Hawkins said...

Hi Jeff,

Yes this needs to be said again and again, unfortunately? It shouldn't need saying, we should be doing it. Forgive my take on this, I know that for many it is a bit left field, but part of why I see the church needs "business managers" rather than spiritual elders, is because it is so big in places it needs managing! But I agree we need spiritual elders not business managers.

The decision factor for me is simply, "Do I want to be like them?" I think this is why it can be so intoxicating, so many people want to be like big successful business managers. We live in an age of entrepreneurs.

I want someone who models the Christian faith for me in a way that I can see what he is teaching in the way he lives his life. And by that I mean everything you have said, not how to run a big organisation, but how to live out my faith in the real world.


Richard Hawkins said...

Hi Jeff, Back again!!

Thanks for doing this it has stirred thoughts in me!

I have had a look at Titus 7-9 as well:

"7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."

I know an elder who actually fits all of the criteria, however, there are qualities for which he would not get my vote. In fact if anything he excells in all of the qualities but there is an arrogance there as well. I see all of these "eldership" qualities as that which we should all be aiming for and therefore the elder should be an example to us. But what if the elder is arrogant? Then the people will become arrogant! I wonder if arrogance is covered but I'm missing it in these lists?

I wonder what other qulities might slip through the net, as it were, like indecision, provarication, procrastination. I think there is a danger in only having this list, but I agree with you elders should be chosen purely based on qualities and not achievements!

Please let me know your thoughts.


Jeff Greathouse said...


I wanted to acknowledge your comments. The weekend has been busy. I will be chewing on your comments and post a follow-up comment and a post in the near future.