The elders of Cornerstone Bible Church would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have expressed their desire to serve as leaders in our mid-week flock ministry. The response has been far greater than we expected. Your desire to serve with us has been a source of great encouragement to us as we labor for the church.
The purpose of this paper is to help our applicants understand the important nature and function of the teaching ministry at Cornerstone Bible Church. Secondarily, it is to outline the biblical qualifications of teachers by applying the qualifications for elders found in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7. Finally, this paper is written to help us to have a better understanding of our God given roles in the church. The following issues will be addressed:
The unique gift and call to be a Bible teacher.The privilege and responsibility of teaching the Bible.The qualifications to be a teacher of the Bible.What it means to be "able to teach."
I. IMPORTANCE OF AFFIRMING THE RIGHT MEN AND WOMEN
We understand the gravity of our decision to officially affirm some of our members as teachers in our church. Of the many issues we have faced as a young church, none have been more important than this issue of recognizing those able and qualified to teach the Bible.
We believe this because nothing is more crucial to the practical health and vitality of a local church than having leaders who are godly in character, committed to the church and competent in ability.
This pivotal role of leadership is true in every organization. It is often said that "leadership is everything." And that statement has great merit. Whatever the organization, whether it be a corporation, the armed forces or a basketball team: leadership is everything. And the importance of this statement is only heightened in the local church.
There exists an inseparable relationship between the character of a church and the quality of its leadership. The influence of spiritual leaders in the church is undeniable. Hosea 4: 9 says it simply, "like people, like priests."
Therefore, for the life of the church, the most devastating error is to have low or as is often the case, no standards for church leaders. Churches today are largely captive to a low level of leadership. This is the reason for much of the weakness in the church today. The answer is not just higher standards but to go back to the Scriptures to reclaim the standards set by God in the Holy Scriptures.
II. THE CALL TO BE A BIBLE TEACHER
A. It is a High and Holy Calling
The Bible tells us that the calling to serve the church of Jesus Christ as a teacher of the Bible is first of all a high and holy calling. To stand before a holy God as an unworthy sinner and endeavor to teach the Bible to beloved brothers and sisters who desperately need God's word to bear upon their lives is a high privilege. This demands a man or woman who is committed to being set apart for God. He or she must be a "man of God," a Christian who first and foremost belongs to God!
B. It is a Solemn Calling.
The Bible furthermore tells us that it is a solemn calling. The Apostle James warns us in 3: 1, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." He tells us of the power of the tongue to influence others. As a small bit in the mouths of animals moves them and as a small rudder steers a ship wherever the pilot wants to go, likewise the tongue though very small has great power to move neither animals nor ships but people. Therefore, the power of the tongue to cause great evil by leading people astray with false teaching is unparalleled.
That is why, James warns all aspiring teachers to not be presumptuous. It is a high and holy calling but it is at the same time a solemn calling with severe consequences for those who would mislead the people of God with false and erroneous teaching. It is a calling to be pursued with much wrestling of the soul before God.
C. It is a Blessed Calling.
Finally, the Bible teaches us that this calling to teach the Word of God is a blessed calling. Paul says in Rom. 10: 15, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Teachers according to Eph. 4:11 are given as gifts from God to the church for the edification of the saints. It is a tremendous blessing to be called to build up the saints by teaching them the Word of God!
It is indeed a high and privileged calling to be a teacher of God's Word in God's church. Therefore God has established high and holy qualifications for all those who would serve the Lord's church in this way.
In the third chapter of Paul's first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul outlines 14 qualifications for those seeking to serve as elders in the local church. These qualifications are important to us because they reveal what God values in those who would serve as elders. And because the roles and functions of teachers in the church, parallel that of elders, these standards will be applied to those seeking to be teachers in the church.
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church? ) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.III. THE SIGNIFICANCES OF THESE QUALIFICATIONS
1 Timothy 3:1-7
It is noteworthy that these 14 qualifications are not just a laundry list of things to check off for those seeking to serve as teachers in the church. But they have much significance in terms of our life and ministry in the church.
A. Marks of Spiritual Maturity
First of all, these are marks of spiritual maturity. These qualifications are attitudes and practices that are present in all mature believers. They mark the one who has grown in Christ and has genuinely experienced the life-changing power of God. They are clear signals if you will, that this man has in both private and public arenas of his life, entrusted himself to God's word, have obeyed them and is progressively bearing fruit.
B. Marks of True Spiritual Leadership
Secondly, these are also the marks of true spiritual leadership. In the church, such things as personality (Type A/B, Introvert/Extrovert), personal accomplishments, titles or degrees, or "charisma" do not matter. The only thing that matters is whether the person is a God empowered leader. Christians follow those who are genuinely godly, those who are humble, those who have spiritual power, those who have sincere and fervent faith.
These marks demonstrate the person's capacity to lead others in the Christian life. They tell the church that this person has risen above his own Christian life in the sense that he is capable of leading others. He has, to a degree, mastered his own flesh and is now competent to lead other believers. He knows the scriptures, is a student of bible doctrine and has trained himself to be godly. (1 Tim 4: 7) He has disciplined himself towards a life of holiness. He has overcome sinful habits. He has learned to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions and has learned to live a self controlled, upright and godly life. (Titus 2:12)
He is regularly in prayer, meditation and study of scripture. He has developed godly patterns of thinking and living and is bearing the fruits of right living and godly character. His life is steadfastly growing in maturity and therefore He is now able to lead and help others. When a man is progressively filled with these qualifications, God has placed a sign on his head that this man is worthy to be followed. God has marked him, setting him apart as a leader to be followed.
C. They reveal what God values in leadership
Thirdly, these characteristics reveal what God values in leaders. God is not a pragmatist. He is first and foremost interested in what a man is before what a man can do. His education, intelligence, spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities are not important to God. He is unimpressed with such things. The Bible says much more about what a leader is to be than it does about what he is to do. It does not matter how much education or how much experience a person has. If he does not meet the qualifications of biblical morality, he is unfit to be a leader in God's church.
Phillips Brooks, a prominent pastor of the 19th century said, "What the pastor is far more important than what he is able to do, for what he is gives force to what he does. In the long run, ministry is what we are as much as what we do." This is a much needed redefinition of what it means biblically to be a successful leader in the church today.
D. They reveal the High View God has for leadership
Fourthly, they are absolute qualifications. 1 Timothy 3: 2 says it clearly that the overseer "must" meet these qualifications. The Greek verb means "it is necessary" or "one must." The word emphasizes that this is an absolute necessity. And in the Greek text, verses 2-6 are all one sentence. The must applies to all the qualifications of verses 2-6. And v 7 is a new sentence and it begins again with "must." The Bible is clear that these are nothing short of absolute requirements.
E. Marks signifying continual progression
Finally, these qualifications are not met with perfection. If a man is honest about his life, when he reads these qualifications his response may be, "who can ever truly be qualified? Who can completely fulfill all these qualifications? " And this often causes many to shrink back from leadership when he may very well be qualified. It is important to understand that every one of the qualifications listed here in 1 Timothy 3 is a degreed qualification except for, "husband of one wife."
Meaning that the qualifications are relative and measured. It is said that you judge a man not by what he is but by what he wants to be. Likewise, the quality of leaders is reflected not by what they are presently but what they want to be in the future. The core issue is the current progress and the intensity with which one pursues these characteristics.
Pastor Samuel Brengle sums it up perfectly, "Spiritual leadership is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confessions of sin, and much heart searchings and humbling before God; by self surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold, deathless, uncompromising and uncomplaining embracing of the cross and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves but rather like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. That is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be not merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell."
IV. QUALIFICATIONS FOR SPIRIUTAL LEADERS
The five points mentioned above is the basis upon applying these qualifications to those seeking to serve as teachers at Cornerstone.
We have placed the 14 qualifications of 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 in the following five categories.
Moral qualifications in regard to one's own life.Functional qualification for the office.Qualification in relation to his family.Qualifications in relation to members of the Church.Qualification in relation to the world.
A. Moral qualifications in regard to one's own life
1. Above Reproach
The first criterion given by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3: 2 is the overarching trait that qualifies a person as a spiritual leader. "An overseer, then, must be above reproach." (1 Tim 3: 2) He must be "blameless," meaning beyond fault, above rebuke or disgrace. The root word here is lambano which means "to take hold of." It means that his conduct must be such that nothing is present in the man's life that would be given to injure his reputation. It is God's demand that His steward live in such a holy manner that his teaching would never be in contradiction to his lifestyle, that his/her indiscretions never bring shame on the ministry and that the shepherd's conduct never undermine the flock's confidence in the ministry of God.
Again, this is the overarching quality of a true spiritual leader. The remainder of the list is a detailed examination of each component of that characteristic, developing what it means to be above reproach.
An important point is that it does not mean he must be perfectly sinless. But it does refer to consistent, mature Christian living which gives no occasion to public reproach. Nor does it mean that he has always been blameless. The verb is a present verb signaling the present state of blamelessness.
It is most significant that in this list of qualifications, the first one listed deals with his moral character. The importance of this cannot be overstated. A spiritual leader has tremendous potential both for great good but also irreparable harm. Their lives must be consistent with their teaching. Hypocrisy is a disease that is contagious. That is why even in permissible areas, some things can be tolerated in the congregation that cannot be tolerated in the leadership.
In my own reading, I am growing in love for the puritans. I am currently reading JC Ryle's book on Christian leaders of the 18th century and I am bidding on Richard Baxter's "Christian Directory" volume I on Ebay. Good Christian books are so precious. There is a reason why Schuller's book is selling for 50 cents with no bids while Baxter's book is currently at $55.
Pastor Richard Baxter wrote in his book "The Reformed Pastor,"
Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine and lest you lay such stumbling blocks before the blind lest you unsay with your lives, what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your labors.It is imperative that those who are over God's people functioning as teachers of God's word are above reproach. Our efforts to raise a godly generation of believers will be severely thwarted if we ignore this criterion for those seeking to be spiritual leaders at Cornerstone.
Take heed to yourselves, lest you live in those sins which you preach against in other and lest you be guilty of that which daily you condemn. Will you make it your work to magnify God and when you have done, dishonour him as much as others? Will you proclaim Christ's governing power and yet condemn it.
Take heed to yourselves, lest you cry down sin, and you do not overcome it. Lest while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it, and become its slaves yourselves. O brethren, It is easier to chide at sin, than to overcome it.
2. One Woman Man
The second criterion given is that he must be a one woman man. Obviously, this criterion applies only to our male small group leaders.
In the list of Paul's qualifications for elders in Titus 1: 6, this qualification also stands second occurring immediately after the demand for blamelessness. This suggests that the first thing that marked a man as blameless was his devotion to his wife.
It is most appropriate that sexual fidelity is first on Paul's mind because that seems to be the area that most often disqualifies a man for ministry. It is a grave concern for Paul and for us. We do not hear of men being disqualified because of drunkenness, lack of hospitality, or a lack of respectability. But we all hear far too often of men stepping down from ministry, leaving the church because of failure in this area.
Paul is making a general and positive stipulation that a true spiritual leader must be 'faithful to his one wife.' He must be 'a man of unquestioned morality, one who is entirely true and faithful to his one and only wife.' Paul is not requiring marriage but to those who are married, he outlines clearly the first priority of being above reproach. The man must be faithful to the marriage relationship with his wife.
His marital relationship must be an example to others. He must be an example of faithfulness and pure devotion to his one and only marriage partner. First Timothy 3: 2 is saying that a married or unmarried man who lusts after many women is unfit for ministry. Sin in this area irreparably shatters a man's reputation and disqualifies him from ministry of leadership forever. Because, from that point on, he can never again be above reproach. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever.
Another point to be made is found in the way Paul describes this criterion. The Greek text reads, "a one woman man." Since the other qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 deal with the man's character and since the grammatical structure emphasizes "one woman," there is an aspect here where the phrase is indicating that he must be a one-woman kind of man. In other words, what Paul was emphasizing is the man's character, not his marital status. He is speaking not just to his sexual behavior but also to his inner character.
Many men are married only once but are not one woman men. Many with one wife are unfaithful to that wife in his heart and mind. While remaining married to one woman is commendable, it is no guarantee of moral purity. A one woman man is a man devoted in his heart and mind to the woman who is his wife. He loves, desires and thinks only of her. He maintains sexual purity in both his thought-life and conduct. A true spiritual leader must love, desire and think only of the wife that God has given him.
We want to make one final point concerning this qualification. It is a prevalent weakness among many men in the church today. We live in an effeminate culture where the boundaries between men and women are almost non-existent. This has infiltrated the church where upon many relationships between the sexes are unholy and unedifying. Whether single or married, the spiritual leader must be a one woman kind of man.
His closest friends and confidants must be other men. He must not be "female centered." He must not be the kind of man that seeks intimacy with a woman outside of his wife and family. He must clearly understand and live out his role as a man in the family, church and society. B. Functional Qualification for the office
Suddenly, in the middle of a series of moral qualities in v 2, a single professional qualification is mentioned. This is the only qualification that relates specifically to his giftedness and function.
And this is the only distinction between an elder and a deacon. For our purposes, this is what sets apart teachers of the Bible from other godly and mature believers. There are and will be godly and mature saints who will not be teachers not because they are lacking in terms of personal character or maturity but solely because that is not the role given to them by the Holy Spirit in the church. Their role is not a reflection on them by any means. We are exhorted by the Scriptures to esteem those who teach us the word of God. (Heb 13: 7) But we are not exhorted to esteem the gift of teaching. Teaching though pivotal to the health and growth of the local church is not to be seen as an exalted gift that reflects greater authority or prominence in the church.
We are all given different gifts. These gifts are given unconditionally by the Holy Spirit. No one has earned or deserves any of these gifts.
1 Cor 12:28-31
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
With that said, it is important that our small group leaders are able to teach. This describes a person who possesses everything necessary for teaching. He must have everything necessary to effectively teach the word of God. He must be a clear thinker, coherent, having understandable speech and an inexhaustible discipline to study the Word of God. Furthermore, the person must have the willingness and the inclination to teach others.
The word is literally "skillful in teaching." This word appears only here and in 2 tim 2: 24 "And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, and able to teach." They must be competent men and women who deeply understand the truths of the Scriptures and are effective communicators of that truth. A bible study leader must first and foremost be a Bible teaching man. We sometimes hear it said of a minister, "He is a good pastor but he cannot preach." The sentence is self-contradictory. No man can be a good pastor who cannot preach, any more that a man can be a good shepherd who fails to feed his flock. So no person can be a good Bible study leader who cannot teach the Bible.
1. 4 Marks of a Skillful Teacher
Though these marks are present in all believers, (Col 3: 16) they must be present in a far greater degree in those who aspire to be teachers of God's Word.
a. He knows the priority of the teaching ministry
First of all, he must be a man who knows the priority of the teaching ministry. He must understand that the foundational work of leading a small group is teaching the Word of God. The gathering is not around fellowship, not around "accountability" and certainly not around food and fun. The gathering is around the Word of God. The indispensable work of the minister is to preach and teach the word of God.
b. Committed himself to the discipline of study
The second mark of a skillful teacher is that he has committed himself to the hard work of studying the Bible. Because he understands the priority of the teaching ministry, he has devoted himself to a lifetime study of God's Word. He is not studying to teach. His study of the Word is not an addendum to his life. Study of God's Word is his passion and life's work for the glory of God. His life and thoughts center and revolve around the Word of God.
This is the challenge set down by the Word of God because studying the Bible is hard work. It is by far the most challenging and demanding aspect of ministry! Without question, the incessant discipline of study is a mammoth task. My take is that it is a daily eco-challenge of the soul! It requires much time, effort and sacrifice. Anyone not willing or able to make such a commitment will not be able to faithfully and rightly teach the Bible, or be able to meet the spiritual needs of the saints nor be a true model of a minister of Christ.
In a question and answer session, John Macarthur was asked, "what do you see as the greatest threats that may undermine a man's ministry today? " He responded with one word, 'laziness.'
He wrote elsewhere,
Many men do not know how to work hard. They know how to stay busy doing a number of things but they do not know how to focus with discipline on the main thing, diligence and discipline in the Scripture. The result is often a failure to attend to the priorities in the ministry. A lot of activity happens at a shallow level, but the hard work of intense study of the Word and prayer are often not done well.c. Deep knowledge of Scripture and Doctrine
Lack of time is not an acceptable excuse. For it is not due to lack of time. The truth is that it is because of the lack of intention, determination and desire. Saying no to many permissible things in this world and refusing to get entangled with civilian affairs because he has said yes to be a student of the word is a clear mark of a skillful teacher of God's Word.
The third mark of a skillful teacher is that he has a deep understanding of Scripture and doctrine. The apostle Paul has set the right standard for us in this area. Paul was a man whose mind was saturated with the Word of God. His great intellect was immersed and bathed with the truth of God's Word.
In the book of Romans for example, Paul speaks with great competence about Abraham. He understood the relationship between grace and law, and between flesh and spirit. In teaching about those truths, He draws upon the writings of Moses, Hosea, Isaiah, and David while demonstrating special familiarity with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. He frequently and effortlessly quotes from Jeremiah, Malachi, Daniel, Ezekiel and Isaiah. His knowledge and ability to teach God's Word was impeccable! He was a man of one book and that book was the Bible! He was a master of it and the Bible in his hands became for him the chosen weapon of God to save the lost and sanctify the saints.
Spurgeon wrote "it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until at last you come to talk in scriptural language and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you."
d. He must be a man of courage and strong conviction
Phillips Brooks in his 1877 Yale lectures said
Courage is the indispensable prerequisite of any true ministry. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinions, go and do something else. Go and make shoes to fit them. go even and paint pictures which you know are bad but which suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all your life preaching sermons which shall say not what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous.He must be a man of strength and also must be a man of conviction. A man thoroughly convinced and convicted of the power of God's word. Titus 1:9 says, "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." He must hold firmly, literally cling to and hold tightly, the word of God. The same word is used in Luke 16: 13 signifying strong devotion. So he must deeply love, and adhere to the trustworthy message of the gospel. It points to a commitment at the deepest level.
It is not enough to know it and simply agree with it. Each leader must have studied for himself, the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and have personal ownership of these basic truths of the Christian faith. Church leaders must be men and women of conviction and the object of the conviction must be the trustworthy message of the Scriptures!
C. Qualification in relation to his family
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church? )
1 Tim 3:4-5
So far in our study, we have looked at two areas of a man's life.
First, his character: that he must be a man above reproach and a one woman man. Secondly, we looked at his competency. He must be able to teach.
The third qualifying category for a leader in the church is that he must be a man with proven family leadership. For our purposes, the bible study leader must have the affirmation of his or her family. Imperative that those who are closest affirm his character and servant leadership.
Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane, a pioneer in the medical profession, was the chief surgeon of New York City's Summit Hospital in Early 20th century. During his thirty-seven years of experience, Dr. Kane had seen too many deaths and disabilities caused by general anesthesia. It was his opinion that most major operations could and should be done under the safer, local anesthesia. His only problem was, he couldn't find any volunteers. Understandably, no one was willing to trust in Dr. Kane's novel theory and go under the knife without being knocked out. Until one day, someone finally stepped forward to put his theory to the test.
In thirty-seven years, Dr. Evan Kane had conducted nearly four thousand appendectomies, all fairly routine. But this one would be different: the patient would remain awake throughout the entire operation. Before surgery, the patient was prepped and wheeled into the operating room, where a local anesthesia was administered. Dr. Kane began the operation and carefully cut through the surface tissues, clamping off blood vessels en route to the appendix. Locating the organ, the sixty-year-old surgeon pulled it up and performed the surgery. The operation concluded successfully, with the patient experiencing only minor discomfort. In fact, the patient recovered with such remarkable speed that just two days after his surgery he was released from the hospital. Dr. Kane's test was a brilliant success. The risks of general anesthesia could be avoided by using local anesthesia instead.
This milestone surgery was performed on Feb. 15, 1921. And you might want to note this final interesting fact: Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane and the patient who volunteered for the experimental procedure had a great deal in common, they were the same man! No one would volunteer to put his theory to the test so he volunteered himself. He put his theory to the test on his own body! What an incredible example! His was the most powerful way to prove his point. Operate on yourself, show by your own life that what you claim is true.
There is a parallel here with the leadership in the church. Anyone claiming to be a Christian leader, must put his claim to the test. And the test is his leadership in his own family. If he is ably teaching and leading his own household, he is able to teach and lead the church.
The supreme test of what a man really is, is what he is at home. The Christian faith must first be proven at home. Private life first then to public life. In John Bunyan's book "Pilgrim's progress," there is a character whose name is "Talkative." He is described as "a saint abroad and a devil at home". Such a man is not qualified for leadership in the church.
If your husband or wife can vouch for you, if your parents can affirm your faith, if your siblings and children can stand behind you and acknowledge the genuineness of your faith then these are signs that your public Christian life is genuine.
A commentator wrote:
If you want to know whether a man lives an exemplary life, whether he is consistent, whether he can teach and model the truth and whether he can lead people to salvation, to holiness and to serve God, then look at the most intimate relationships in his life and see if he can do it there. Look at his family and you will find the people who know him best, who scrutinize him most closely. Ask them about the kind of man he is.This tells us that one's personal life must be considered when we deem a person qualified to be a spiritual leader. Is he managing his life well? (health, friendships, career, academics, finances and, life consistent with biblical priorities...) Is he committed to his family? (time spent with family, relationships with husband/wife/children/siblings, respect given to him/her by family...) Does he have personal disciplines worthy of imitation? (being on time for appointments, diligent worker, keeps promises...) What is his character like at home? (kind and gracious in speech, forgiving, servant, submissive, humble...)
In verse five, Paul tells us why proven family leadership is so essential. He inserts a parenthetical statement. "(if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God? )" Paul sees ministry in the church as an extension of the ministry at home. And his rhetorical question is that if one is unable to lead in the smaller setting of his home, then 'how can he lead in the larger setting of the church? '
The whole verse is an argument from the lesser to the greater:
Self management If he can't manage himself
Micro-management If he can't manage his family
Macro-management How can he manage the family of God?
It is easiest to understand spiritual leadership as a kind of parenting role. Ministry to children, youth, adults, small groups, pastoral staff and eldership is comparable to parental leadership. The apostles Paul, John and Peter often referred to those they ministered to as their children. Why? Because they understood, and so must we, what spiritual leadership is. And if a man can't parent their own family, how can they parent the family of God?
God makes this argument against Israel in Jeremiah 12:5. "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
So for Paul, it is unthinkable to place a man in leadership who is failing as a leader in the home!
D. Qualifications in relation to members of the Church
Then Paul goes on to list 6 qualities that reveal a man's fitness for leadership. These all center around the man's character and reputation in the church.
He must first be respectable. The greek word "Kosmios" carries the idea of orderly. The word is derived from "kosmos," which is opposite to chaos. So a spiritual leader must not have a chaotic but an orderly lifestyle which engenders respect from others. For if he cannot order his own life, how can he bring order to the church? Homer Kent Jr. said, " The ministry is no place for the man whose life is a continual confusion of unaccomplished plans and unorganized activities." The man must have his "act together."
It is a virtue repeatedly commanded in the Scriptures.
Rom 12:13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Heb 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
1 Pet 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
It is a compound word in the Greek, two words "to love" and "strangers." The word therefore literally means "lover of strangers." It does not refer to entertaining friends but showing hospitality to strangers!
William Barclay wrote:
In the ancient world, inns were notoriously bad. In one of Aristophane's plays Heracles asks his companion where they will lodge for the night; and the answer is "Where the fleas are fewest." Plato speaks of the inn-keeper being like a pirate who holds his guests for ransom. Inns tended to be dirty and expensive and above all immoral...In the Christian church there were wandering teachers and preachers who needed hospitality. There were also many slaves with no homes of their own to whom it was a great privilege to have the right of entry to a Christian home. It was of the greatest blessing that Christians should have Christian homes ever open to them in which they could meet people like minded to themselves.3. Not violent
It means, "not given to blows or not a striker." The word "violent," speaks of a man who is always ready for a fight, a passionate man who is inclined to come to blows over anything! A leader in the church must not be one who reacts to difficulty with physical violence. He must not settle disputes with blows. He must react to situations calmly and gently.
The true spiritual leader must not be a person who uses physical force or intimidation to gethis way. The Bobby Knight school of leadership: using intimidation, threats and even physical force to motivate and drive people isn't acceptable in the church. Such men can lead in the world but not in the church.
Instead of being violent, he must be gentle. This describes a person who is the opposite of a striker. He is instead considerate, forbearing and gracious. He lives his life not on the basis of his rights but his responsibilities.
5. Not quarrelsome
Meaning peaceful. A quality of character reflected by a person who is reluctant to argue and debate over trivial matters. Not overly opinionated. Not seeking to start or stir up a controversy. It refers not so much to physical violence as to a attitudinal violence. To have a contentious person in leadership will result in disunity and disharmony, seriously hindering the effectiveness of the leadership team.
6. He must not be a recent convert
One of the great dangers of leadership is pride and therefore humility is an essential qualification. This is the only time the term "recent convert" is mentioned in the New Testament. It is used in extra-biblical Greek to refer to a newly planted tree. So the metaphorical sense is the idea here.
The leader must not be a new Christian. It is because leadership has inherent temptations towards pride. vs 6 "so that he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil."
The word, "conceited" is derived from a root word meaning smoke. The verb means to puff up like a cloud of smoke. Putting a new convert into a position of spiritual leadership is apt to puff him up, to put his head in the clouds. That would place him in grave danger of falling into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
That does not mean an individual is condemned by Satan, the Bible never portrays him as a judge. It means that he falls into the same kind of judgment pronounced by God on Satan. The judgment of being opposed by God and thus being brought down.
1 Pet 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
E. Qualifications in relation to the world
The final category is the leaders reputation with those outside the church
7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
The godly character of the leader must be manifested in his personal life, in his home, in the church but also in the world. The word for reputation here is "marturia," from which we get the English word, "martyr." The word speaks of a certifying testimony given by outsiders.
D. Edmond Hiebert wrote, "For one who has an unsavory reputation in the community to be placed by the church into a prominent place of authority would be to draw upon himself and the church the reproach of the world...such a man would cause great harm to his own soul and bring terrible damage to the church."
Reformation in the church is not over. And it must begin at the level of leadership for Christ's church will never rise above her leaders. Therefore it is crucial that the men and women who teach the Bible and lead others have godly character, clarity in doctrine, be competent in ability and deeply committed to Jesus Christ and His church.
We ask that you pray for us and for the teachers who are given to us as gifts from God.