1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1
Introduction: I would like to start with a quote from Robert Cook, “There is no substitute for character. You can buy brains, but you can’t buy character.” When it comes to choosing Christian leaders, little is more important than godly character. You can buy talent, brains, and knowledge, but you can’t buy character. A person either has it or they don’t.
Many churches have shifted from the biblical leadership model of elders and deacons to more of a business model with directors and coordinators. These aren’t necessarily bad titles to use in and of themselves, but when the church is led by committees as opposed to governing elders and deacons trouble can surely ensue. That is why there needs to be a group responsible for nominating and selecting leaders that have studied the qualifications for such positions as found in 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1. The list is amazingly specific and detailed. Not everyone can, or should, be an elder.
What Does a Godly Leader Look Like?
This should be the question that is asked in a search and the answer can be found in 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1. If a church wants elders who are elders in more than just name, then these passages must be taken seriously.
What we have so far is a general backdrop for this particular series. It has been birthed from a desire to help local churches find godly leaders. My hope is that it will serve many churches as they pursue leaders. It is also my hope that it will be used by whoever wishes so that churches can be taught the importance of discovering godly leaders who are already among their people. In addition, it is also my hope that it becomes a resource for others as they teach on this vitally important topic.
I personally see these character qualities applying to three categories: First, they directly apply to the elders of any local church. I believe that purpose to be first and foremost. Second, they also apply in a general sense to all Christians who are called to leadership in any given area. And third, they apply to all believers everywhere as these qualities ultimately describe what a godly, or mature, Christian should look like. There doesn’t appear to be any individual quality on this list the is specific only to those called to leadership. In other words, when considered in a broad sense, these qualifications should fit each one of us. Of course elders must be above reproach, free from the love of money, not quarrelsome, gentle, lovers of good, etc. But those qualities should be found in all true believers. They describe the kind of people all of us should be striving to be. While it is true that the list is for elders/pastors, and then for church leaders in general, all of us can benefit greatly from reading and studying this list carefully while asking ourselves, “How good of a job am I doing measuring up to these expectations?”
In all honesty, I find these qualifications very challenging and convicting. Trust me, it’s far easier to preach, teach, or write about this list than it is to put it into practice. I don’t think it’s possible to over emphasize the importance of these characteristics. When they are ignored, you are guaranteed trouble of the likes you have never seen. When they are followed, your church will be greatly blessed and God is honored.
Before we dive into these waters, it’s important to keep in mind this is a list to aspire to. Not a single person lives like this 100 percent of the time. It’s simply not possible. Paul puts before us a worthy goal that we should all strive to reach – but in all honesty, we will work a lifetime on this and still won’t completely reach the goal. We need to take this list seriously but also graciously and realistically. As we each know about ourselves, none of us are “above reproach.”
(to be continued…)