Summary: Paul sets before us a worthy goal-which most of us will work on for a lifetime
Paul sets before us a worthy goal-which most of us will work on for a lifetime and still not completely reach. We ought to take this list seriously but also graciously and realistically.
I. The Overlooked Ingredient 1 Timothy 3:1
"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task." Many of us might completely overlook that verse in our haste to get to the list of qualifications. That would
be a great mistake because this verse reveals the overlooked ingredient of leadership: Godly leaders must want the job.
Paul uses two verbs to bring this out.
First, he says that a person must "set his heart" on leadership. The verb means to "stretch out in order to grasp," like a football player straining to reach the goal line.
Second, he says that a leader must "desire" leadership. That verb means to "eagerly desire" or to "be ambitious for" or even to "covet" (in the good
Notice also that he calls leadership a "noble task." Leadership is a noble calling in and of itself. Consider the following statements:
1. Leadership is a noble thing in the eyes of God and it, too, is a form of servanthood.
2. The desire to be a leader is noble if it is accompanied by a desire to grow in grace.
3. Being a leader is a noble work-but it is work! If a person desires leadership, what does he seek?
A title? A name? A big office? A platform for greatness? A big salary? No, he desires a "noble task."
Here, then, is the first requirement for leadership. A person must want the job! There should be a God-given desire that moves the heart to action. The application is clear: If you have to talk a person into serving, you’ve probably got the wrong person! That goes as much for Sunday School teachers and choir members as it does for elders and deacons. If God is truly calling, that person should eventually feel a
deep inner desire for the job.
Note: Reluctance and hesitation are not always a bad sign. Perhaps the person feels unworthy or perhaps they don’t understand what the job entails. Sometimes reluctance is good because the job of leadership is an
awesome task. We don’t want leaders who take their jobs lightly. On the other hand, settled unwillingness and opposition is a sign that you don’t
have the right person for the job.)
Two implications to think about:
1. If leadership is a noble task, then churches should uphold their leaders before the congregation. Being an elder is a great work, being a deacon or a deaconess is a great work, serving the Lord as a Sunday School teacher is a great work. Being a trustee is a heavy responsibility. The same is true for all volunteer positions in the church. Let’s uphold leadership and encourage our people to show respect and appreciation for the leaders God has given.
2. Young men and women should be taught that leadership is a worthy calling in the local church. Too often church members make disparaging comments about the pastor, the staff, the elders or the deacons or the choir director or the Sunday School teachers . . . and then we wonder why our teenagers drop out of church as soon as they can. How much better to uphold godly leaders and challenge our high schoolers to aspire to the same kind of leadership someday.