Paul is training Timothy how to install godly leaders. Why? Because they are fighting false teaching. This gives us a biblical look at what it takes to be a godly leader in the church, and it applies in all of life.
What is so important in this powerful list of qualifications is that there is very little about skills, resume, or family background. Paul does list some skills, but they are small – able to teach, able to manage. These qualities are important in all churches, and especially when you are dealing with false teaching. There is not a lot about job history – not a lot of questions about “success” as we typically define it. There is not a lot about “who are your parents?”, or getting the position because of who you know.
Christian leadership is about character. This list is a character list. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but show us that what matters most in our church leaders, and in all of leadership, is our character. Am I hospitable? Hard working? Honest and self-controlled? Do I put my family first? Do I love God more than money, more than being right? These are character issues – and this is what the Bible says is key to our leadership. We can skills – to the hard working most skills are teachable. But character is formed through pain and choices, trusting in God through the low times, and staying true in the tempting high times.
How is God growing your character right now? He just might be preparing you to lead in a whole new way.
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New Living Translation
Leaders in the Church
1This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder,a he desires an honorable position.” 2So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife.b He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3He must not be a heavy drinkerc or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?
6An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.d 7Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.
8In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. 9They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. 10Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons.
12A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. 13Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.