Summary: 1 Timothy speaks clearly about the making of Leaders for God’s people today. I’ve discovered at least ten qualities that all begin with "M."
Making of Leadership for God’s People
1 Tim. 3:1-7
God has a vested interest in the leadership of the church. He has always been directly involved and deeply concerned about those who lead his people. Think of the earliest great biblical leaders. The first one that comes to my mind is Moses. From birth God watched over this man and put him through 80 years of training before calling him to lead his people. Now that’s preparation! He was schooled in Egypt and humbled in the Midian desert, and from there he was called to lead. He tried to resist the call, but God didn’t let him off the hook. Moses was perhaps the greatest Old Testament leader for God’s people until Jesus came. But there are many other unsung leaders in the Old Testament whose names we do not even have. They are often referred to as elders of the people. These men were the stabilizing guides of the communities of God’s people. They are often seen sitting at the gates of the cities to dispense wisdom and help manage the affairs of the people. They witness legal exchanges and announced God’s blessings and sometimes God’s warnings. They were representatives of the community, civil leaders, referred to as shepherds and sometimes served as military advisors. It is not surprising that when we come to the New Testament and read about the leadership of the church we discover that God calls the leaders of his church by the same names.
Today we are looking at the most commonly known part of the book of 1 Timothy, the part that talks about the overseers and deacons. These verses, plus the list in Titus 1, form the basic qualification list for these leaders. When I was a kid and the church would from time to time prepare to select and install elders and deacons, the preacher always preached from these verses. I remember that it was a sort of right of passage. We were people of the Book who did our best to obey what God said. May God bless us that we will always be people of the Book, people who honor and obey the Word of God and live and die by what God says in the Bible. God’s Word about God’s kind of leaders for God’s people… this is such a great blessing. God has laid it out for us in plain language so that we don’t have to guess about what He wants in leadership.
As we look at this passage in 1 Timothy 3 I will focus most of my lesson on verses 1-7 and we will notice the making of leadership in ten words that all begin with the letter “M.” I did this to help with memory. This might make it a more memorable message. You can follow with the handouts.
The first “M” is Motivated:
3:1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
This word translated in the NAS as “aspires” (or some translations say “desire” or “sets his heart on”) is only found three times in the New Testament. Here and in 1 Tim 6:10 and in Hebrews 11:16. Different people are motivated by different things. In 1 Tim 6:10 money is the motivation. In Hebrews 11:16 heaven is the motivation. So what is the motivation behind the desire for the office of overseer? He doesn’t tell us directly here, does he. It just says that it is a noble task or fine work that he is motivated to do. But in the context of the entire book we see the motives of love for God and for his church as central. In fact, remember chapter 1:5? The goal of gospel instruction is this: love from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith. A heart shaped by the gospel in this way would see the need of God’s people for leadership and be motivated by God’s heart for God’s people. But leadership must be motivated.
Next, and this one is obvious to us: these leaders must be Men. “Men” is your second “M.” Is anyone surprised? This text follows on the heels of what he says about women. God expects men to take the lead. When men sit back and leave gaps in leadership, women notice and naturally desire to see these filled. Sisters, you can really help us here by praying for and encouraging our men to take their God given responsibility and lead. When men do this, it blesses everyone! God has given this church so much talent and several gifted brothers in Christ who can serve the cause of Christ and this church by aspiring to leadership.
Third is another obvious one is “Members.” The leadership comes from the membership. Think about this with me. Elders are not hired to come in after preaching a lesson. They have to prove themselves as one of us. We used to have goats… milk goats. Jenny and our kids loved these goats and we had more milk than we could use. But the best part of the milk was the cream that would rise to the top. Cows milk cream rises much better. It’s a shame kids these days don’t get to experience this. The milk all comes out together, but the cream rises to the top. Similarly, God has established his church so that the shepherds and leaders come from the congregation and rise to the positions as members. But church members are not the only ones who notice the quality of life in the man. Look at verse 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. This is a member who is known by those who are not members as a man with high standards. He proves himself in three key places. Home, Church, and community.