Summary: 3rd in a series from 1 Timothy. While the world looks for certain attributes in its leaders, good church leaders are measured by completely different standards.
Lessons for a Healthy Church
Choosing Allies of Integrity
Introduction: Spring is just 22 days away. Are you glancing at seed catalogs or wandering into the garden departments at the local stores to see what is being set out on display? Whether we are farming, planting a small vegetable garden in our back yard, or just thinking about mowing the grass, a successful growing season depends on good planning. Likewise, the things we admire most in people do not happen by accident. Purity, wisdom, and a good reputation are seeds planted by others that grow into characteristics appreciated by nearly everyone.
Proposition: While the world looks for certain attributes in its leaders, good church leaders are measured by completely different standards.
1. Personal character
This has Paul’s greatest interest, accounting for over half of the 15 qualities listed.
An overseer or elder must be:
· Above reproach (of good reputation, legitimatized in the community)
· Temperate (not given to excesses or extremes)
· Self-controlled (in actions and words)
· Not given to much wine (literally, “not lingering over the cup”)
· Not violent (not “a hitter”)
· Not a lover of money (see 1 Tim. 5:17-18 & 6:3-10, where Paul notes that some want to teach in order to become rich)
· Not a recent convert (here, experience counts!)
Common to all these qualifications is the theme of balance and control. Overseers are to exhibit self-control before they are given any responsibilities in the church.
2. Relations with others
This is nearly as important as personal character because it is an extension of it. An overseer must be:
· The husband of one wife (faithful to his marital commitment)
· Gentle (as opposed to violent)
· Not quarrelsome (contentiousness or combative)
· Of good reputation outside the church (i.e., above reproach!)
An overseer must relate well to all people before he is permitted to lead God’s people.
3. Ministerial abilities
An ability to teach.
· This is vital, for an overseer’s responsibility is directly related to keeping the church doctrinally pure.
· The best way to protect against error is by teaching the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)
A well-managed family.
· Not a controlled family, but a shepherded family.
· If a man is not caring for his family, he cannot care for the church.
Overseers are to serve both with a scholar’s head and a shepherd’s heart.
4. A servant’s heart
In the church, there are two sets of leaders: teaching leaders & serving leaders.
In verses 8-13, Paul turns his attention to church servants: diakonos, transliterated as “deacon.”
This literally meant someone who waited on tables, and came to identify those who served the material needs of the congregation. Its origin is found in Acts 2.
· Their qualifications mirror those of the overseer or elder.
· Personal character is the greatest emphasis for a deacon.
Please know that those who have served and are serving as elders & deacons at Liberty Christian Church have a servant’s heart. They need our prayers & encouragement.
There is a “lid factor” in leadership. A church or ministry will only rise to the level of effectiveness that its leaders are effective.
· Would all the present elders please stand
· Would all the present deacons please stand
· Would anyone who has ever served as an elder or deacon at Liberty Christian Church please stand
These men stand here because they are in love.
· They love the Lord Jesus Christ
· They love his church
· They love you.
· They need your prayers; they need to know that you are praying for them.
Please gather around one of the men standing near you & place your hand on them. Be sure that no man is standing alone.
· Let’s pray for their encouragement
· Let’s pray for their effectiveness
· Let’s pray that God will blow the lid off this place.
· Let’s pray!
Conclusion: The responsibilities weighing on the shoulders of any congregation’s elders, deacons, and ministers can be absolutely overwhelming. For the church, this is an election year. The congregation has a chance to affirm its leaders by asking them to serve. Let’s be the church God wants us to be by encouraging good biblical leadership. Pray for and support those who follow the lead of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can do so by following the Lord’s leadership in your own life today.
Invitation: Where He Leads Me I Will Follow