1 Timothy 3:1 (NIV) 1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
On verse 1: Paul is about to list the qualifications that a person must meet in order to be an “overseer” or, as other translations put it, a pastor, elder, or bishop in the church. But before listing those qualifications, Paul first affirms that the work of a overseer/pastor is a noble work. If you dream of being a leader in God’s kingdom because you want to serve others and use your life for God’s glory, that is definitely a noble dream and a good work.
1 Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV) 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
On verses 2-3: Notice that when Paul lists the qualifications that a person must meet to be an overseer/pastor, he begins with the person’s character. First, that person must be “above reproach”, or blameless. In other words, that person must not have any glaring, persistent character flaws that make him unfit to lead others.
Next, if he is married, he must be faithful to his wife. He must also be temperate (i.e. does not act rashly), self-controlled (i.e. not a slave to his passions and emotions), respectable (i.e. he shows good judgment and lives in a way that is worthy of respect), hospitable (i.e. he is willing to share what he has with others), and able to teach others. He must not be someone who gives in easily to alcohol, violence, arguing or greed.
What can we learn from this? The foundation of strong leadership is character — not skill, talent, knowledge, popularity or experience. No matter how skilled, talented, knowledgeable, popular or experienced a leader may be, if that person has serious character issues, then the foundation of that person’s leadership will be broken. It will be a mistake to build anything substantial on that person. Keep these traits in mind not just when choosing leaders, but also when choosing whom to date, whom to marry, whom to partner up with in business, and whom you will allow to influence your life. Leadership always begins with character.
1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NIV) 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
On verses 4-5: One of the best ways to see if someone is fit to be a public leader in the church is to look at their home life. Does that person have the respect of the people in his own home? Does he manage his own home and family well?
1 Timothy 3:6 (NIV) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
On verse 6: Paul cautions Timothy against elevating to senior leadership someone who is very new in the faith. Otherwise, pride may become that person’s downfall, just as it was for the devil.
1 Timothy 3:7 (NIV) 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
On verse 7: A church leader must also have a good reputation even among people who are not Christians. Why is that important? It’s to make sure that he or she lives with integrity, consistency and good character, whether that person is dealing with churched people or unchurched people. It avoids elevating to leadership people who are two-faced, those who are very spiritual and holy when dealing with spiritual and holy people but very unspiritual and unholy when dealing with people of this world.
May you always operate at a high level of integrity whether you’re dealing with people in the church or with people in the world. May integrity, wisdom, faith and love mark your steps no matter where you are or whom you’re with.
Do you want to be a leader in God’s kingdom? Treat the qualifications Paul lists in verses 2-7 as a checklist of traits that you’ll want to develop more and more.
Heavenly Father, I pray that You would raise up more and more people who will have the traits we read about in verses 2-7. Our city and our world are in great need of such excellent leaders on whom You will build Your church and through whom You will expand Your kingdom. Raise them up in our church and all over our city. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!