Sunday, March 6, 2011

Leadership: Who's in Charge? 1 Tmothy 3:1-7

As we saw last week, the leadership question might bring some concern for some in the church.  Some passages are not 100% clear as to the final meaning but most scriptures do give us a complete picture of the roles and functions of leaders.  Rather than look at the ones that are in question, we shall look at the verses that give us a very clear understanding of the roles of leadership in the Church. At the outset, I am learning with you.

Understand, first of all, that the Church is not a democracy.  It really isn’t.  Not every voice is equal.  Not every decision is made by the ALL.  The Church does not work that way.  It does not work in the Society; it does not work in the Church.  Both social networks and the Christian community works better than that.  Both has structure.  It is not our concern this morning to look at what the world has to offer man as far as leadership. We will look to the scriptures for our understanding and for our answers.

Time is the factor to look at here.  As I look at the Scriptures, it seems apparent that it was necessary for the congregation to exist for some time in order for the fellowship to mature.  There is a warning that a new believer not become a leader as he might fall into temptation.  What Paul was concerned with was that leadership would be tested and that testing be done over time.

Even Paul warned his own elders in Acts 20:27-30 that things could fall apart.
 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own Blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”

31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 
 36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. 

I find it outrageous that the leaders were really more concerned that they would not see Paul again and apparently not concerned for the well-being of the flock NOR how fast some of them were going to turn away from Christ and become enemies of the Gospel.  From among them! distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. No longer Christ-centered but man-centered.

The exact role of the elders are not detailed for us in the New Testament.  The character traits are.  What you are is what you do. They would show Spiritual maturity.  Maybe of some age.  They would be concerned with spiritual matters that affected the Christians under their care. 

The role of the elders do, however, requires some very distinctive spiritual gifts as well as a developed Christian character.  All believers are called to be mature in Christ but not all believers are called to be elders in the Church. This is indeed, a high calling.

There is one critical ministry of elders found in 1 Timothy 5:17 “The elders who direct the affairs of the church.”  The ones who ‘oversee’ the ministry are called to direct the affairs of the fellowship—spiritual well-being—as a good shepherd.

Let us look at 1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.  The role or task of Jesus here is both administrative as well as judicial. To oversee-authority. He is the One who looks out for us. 

Certain spiritual gifts of overseeing are necessary to understand and guard the Fellowship as they work out their Faith in life and practice.  The elder calls for insight into the nature of the Church and needs an understanding of how the Body of Christ functions and perhaps, also, has understanding of the way the gift of administration operates.

Titus 1:5-9: blameless, Husband of one wife, having believing children [not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient], blameless, not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not addicted to drunkenness, not violent [belligerent or aggressive], not a money-lover, hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holding fast the Word, able to encourage [teach] sound doctrine, able to refute objections.

1 Tim 3:1-7: above reproach, temperate, respectable, not quarrelsome, manage his own family, not a resent convert, have a good reputation with outsiders.

1 Peter 5:1-4: willing to serve, not under compulsion or obligation, eager to serve, not lording it over the flock, as an example.

We can see six words that some out as a summery of these verses:  
 1. Integrity-the Overseer’s word is true.  His life is one of high quality.  He is a man of integrity.  
 2. High Morality-he is a man of one wife (or a one-woman-man). 
 3. Hospitable-he reaches out.  Same root word for hospital.  He is a hospital. Gives care and healing.
 4. Humility-not a resent convert.  Time to grow up in his Faith. 
 5. Honest-dealing with ¥, $.  And 
 6. Harmony-he is a peace-maker.  No rough edges. His walk is one of harmony and at ease even in hard times.

Here is the framework. Understand this very open truth: everyone in the Body of Christ should have these character traits.  Not just the leaders.  We are called to One Body. We are called to be Holy as the Lord God is Holy.  We are part of Christ's Body.  Therefore, we are all called to live a life for Him with that is without blemish.  We are forgiven.  We are set apart to Him, therefore, we are to live a life that reflect His Oneness and Holiness.

Next time: the second half of this talk on being an "Overseer".  Stay on the course.  Keep your eyes on Jesus!