Nov 5 2017 1 Timothy 3 - The Importance of Character in Leadership
11th November 2017
Dick: I’ve thought a lot about leadership – and I think of all the un-s – I feel unqualified, unskilled, unable at times. But the Bible has different things to say about leadership.
Each of us is called to serve in different ways. I would define leadership as a proactive concern for others’ welfare.
Mike: The importance of character in leadership has taken a backseat and it is a disaster, all around our world. This may come across a little heavier than what you are used to.
1 Tim. 3: 1 This saying is trustworthy: "If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work." 2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money.
4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. 5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? 6 He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. 7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil's trap.
Overseer – Episcopal –
Deacon – Minister – servant
Elder – Presbyter –
Titles are not important. That is not Paul’s concern. There are other terms for church leadership – the number one – Bondservant – Bondslave. There aren’t many choosing this title today.
It is not education/charisma/gift/production. All of those are valuable. But – if you have all of those but lack character – they are of little value.
There are many people who have built large churches who have been very charismatic and had great communication skills – but because they lacked character, they failed as leaders. That is why Paul places such emphasis on the leader of the church being a person of character.
Even the best character leaders will fail because they are human. We all have significant flaws. These are overall ideals – general qualities of a leader. We all have leadership qualities somewhere, but we all will fail. If you are introspective and look at these qualities, you would think, Oh my! Paul is looking at ideals – overall general characteristics. Yes, it says he is to not be contentious, but if he fails in that once – that does not mean that is his character. The only one who never failed was JESUS. There are those who think they never fail, but that is a flaw in itself. He is talking about those who have a habitual characteristic of life where they lack self-control
2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable,
Above reproach – a general, broad characteristic that all the others fit under – honest, proper, trustworthy in all public dealings. When you look at this person, you can’t point a finger to say they are cheaters. Generally overall, that is the case. The concept of a public witness.
Honest and proper in his dealings with those outside the church. The church is a public religion – and the public witness and testimony has to be impeccable. Deacons likewise must be dignified.
7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil's trap.
- a good reputation with outsiders. Not just how they act in church, but in the world. Well-spoken of. A little caution – Jesus said, woe to you when all men speak well of you. That is not what this is talking about. There will be those who spread false accusations because of their faith. There is a difference between that and those speaking poorly about you because they had personal dealings with you and you were dishonest in business.
We live in a world where character matters little. And it causes so many problems in the church, government, education, business, etc – where there are people in leadership who lack character.
2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,
This person needs to be an example of fidelity and faithfulness in marriage. I’d like to say this – and I know, in our church, we have a bunch of excellent examples of this. That doesn’t mean that all married couples in this church haven’t gone through problems, because they have - in yours and mine. But it is an honor to work with those who are committed to finding ways to make it work. If you are a younger couple here, you have an opportunity to learn from those.
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. (Heb 13:4 NLT)
Tied into this character - our culture is filled with people who are improper in sexuality and speech. We need to reject it wholly. No locker-room talk.
Eph. 5:4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting– all of which are out of character– but rather thanksgiving.
We must not laugh about it. We must reject it. Especially – there is a lot that goes on between men and women and we need to reject it graciously, without embarrassing people – and not be a part of it.
There may be people that you are regularly around who use demeaning language. If it is consistent, you need to be sensitive to the individual, but you may need to talk to them in private, in love, for their benefit.
3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious,
We live in a violent culture. Not just terrorism and murder, but it seems that to get ahead, people think you have to be demanding and assertive. Paul says we should be gentle. When you think of leadership, you don’t think of ‘gentle’. Do you know what the Greek word for gentle means? Gentle.
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.(1Ti 6:11 NAU)
A true man’s man is a man of God – and a true man of God must be gentle. If you are not gentle, you are not a man of God. This flies against our culture. Confidence, assertive, boldness, courage, gentleness. Those all go together. Confidence without gentleness is arrogance – and arrogance is one of the most destructive forces in the soul of a leader. This will cause the leader to fail – morally – somehow.
2 Tim. 2: 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.
We are all leaders in some ways – so we need to be bold enough to correct someone – but we need to do it with gentleness.
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2Cor. 10:1 NAS)
If the concept of gentleness in leadership bothers you – then Jesus bothers you. You have a problem with Jesus.
Gentleness is how God exercises his power.
This cuts across so many
free from the love of money.
Many are lovers of money. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all sorts of eveils. Materialism and consumerism are some of the main religions in America and money is the god of those religions. It is really important for church leaders to have a handle on this – as there are opportunities to be corrupted by money – therefore, leaders must have control in this area. Leaders also have opportunities to manipulate others to out of their money. There is no place for that.
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
A key word for a leader is bondservant. Some church leaders become famous. There are many Christians who want celebrity leaders or celebrity worship leaders – but all of us have been called to serve – to serve God and people. The desire for recognition and position prevent you from serving.
One can serve for the desire to be recognized. You are not a servant. Anytime you are seeking recognition or position – you lose your servant heart.
Jesus was the greatest servant of all – and here is an example of it:
John 13:3 Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. 5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.
This is an example – go and do the same. It is the example of ultimate servanthood. The ultimate leader – the one who had every right to be served stepped down, put on the servant’s towel, and did the most embarrassing of jobs willingly and gladly. We turn it into an event – a ceremony – which is okay – but it was a dirty, lowly, menial task that needed to be done. It was part of their world. They would use slaves and servants to do it. It was against their religion to do this.
How did He do it?
There are two things we must understand – He knew He had come from the father – he knew His identity – and we need to recognize our position in Christ – to know God’s love for us and our security in Him. That we are so secure in Christ that we are willing and able to endure the humility of service – and not just humility, but the humiliation of service. There will always be humiliation in service. Because Jesus, the greatest servant, was humiliated on the cross. We can’t go through that if we are not fully confident of who we are in Him. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have position or title.
I am a child of the king – so I am freed to wash your feet!
Second – He knew where He was going – back to God. In order to love – IF – we really wish to be a leader in God’s church, you need to love the thought of being a servant to all. What an opportunity. In order for that to happen, we need to understand we are not living for this world – but another world. Knowing what lies ahead, we can engage this world as servants. Having this hope and confidence – that something much greater awaits…