Summary: Paul says this is what Christian leaders are to be. They are not to be people who get captured by the culture, or by circumstances. They are to be people who are stable and consistent in their commitments regardless of changes in life.
As I read Barbara Shields book Winners-Women And The Nobel
Prize, I was so impressed by the life and leadership of Agnes
Gunxha, better known as Mother Teresa. As I read of her life and
ministry I kept seeing her fulfilling the requirements that Paul lays
down for one to be an elder, or leader, in the church. We see such
words as blameless, not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given
to much wine, not violent, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
That is a lot of nots that are not to be, but Paul does not stop
with the negative, but goes on to add these positives: Be hospitable,
love what is good, be self-controlled, be upright, be holy, be
disciplined, hold firm to the truth, and encourage others. The ideal
Christian life is one of balance with much that is popular in the
world to be excluded, and much that is unpopular to be included.
Negatives and positives in balance is what the Christian life is all
about. I was impressed at how a nun could achieve this balance.
She had been in a convent for 20 years, but at age 38 she launched a
new ministry to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. The filth
and ugliness, and the daily death of babies and others starving was
For months she worked alone. She would gather children
between a hut and teach them the alphabet by writing with a stick
on the ground. She had no money, for she had taken a vow of
poverty. Some people became aware of what she was doing and
gave her a little money and some bars of soap. These children had
never seen a bar of soap. She taught them how to clean themselves,
and she told them of the love of God. She had to beg for medicine to
give to these people. Other women joined her. They would rise at
4:30 A. M. to worship and have a balanced breakfast. Mother
Teresa was strong on having a good diet for health and strength to
do the demanding work they were doing.
Their labor was all in vain she taught if it was not done in joy.
Cheerfulness and love did more for people than food and medicine
she taught, and so all her helpers had to join in the evening fun time
where they would laugh and shout, and play games and sing. It was
hard work, and it was often depressing, and so they needed this for
balance. They lived in poverty like the people to whom they
ministered. They would rescue abandoned and dying babies left in
trash bins. Mother Teresa had a vast collection of photos of her
children that had been adopted from her home to families around
the world. She built the Town of Peace with the help of the Indian
government. This is a town where lepers are treated, and where
they learn a trade, and live a normal life.
We can't begin to describe all of her work among the world's
poorest, and most rejected population. She touched so many lives
and received an avalanche of awards from all over the world. Vast
amounts of money were involved, and all of it went to building more
ministry to the poor. She lived in a small room with no symbols of
affluence. She could pack to move in about 10 minutes. Young men
began to join her Missionaries of Charity, as they were called, and
whole new ministries were started for men and boys in the slums.
So many around the world began to contribute to her cause that she
expanded and opened homes in most of the large cities in the world
from New York to Tokyo.
What she learned is that the greatest hunger in the world is not
for bread but for love. It is poverty of the spirit that is the heaviest
burden to bear, and even rich people suffer this kind of poverty. In
December of 1979 she flew from Calcutta to Oslo, Norway to receive
the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the tradition to have a great banquet
in the honor of the recipient of this great prize. She begged the
committee to forget the banquet and give her the money. This added
7 thousand dollars to the 190 thousand dollar prize. She used it all
to build homes for the poor and the lepers. That year she opened 14
centers outside of India. She has over 100 centers in operation with7
thousand people a day being fed in Calcutta alone.
The stories of her love and care for those rejected by the world
are endless. I share this description of her life and ministry because
it exhibits what Paul is getting at as he lists the requirements for