Summary: Everything rises or falls on leadership. The qualifications of leadership in the church
In many respects the appointment of leaders within a church can be perceived to be the dry, boring mechanics of how a church operates. But I want you to hear this. “Everything rises and falls on Leadership.”
The success of any organisation – including the church – is directly related to the quality of its leadership. Poor leaders = ineffective organisation that will always miss the mark. And great leaders = an excellent organisation that exceeds it’s goals and objectives.
So this morning I want you to take a look at what makes a great leader. And we want to do this because we want great leaders here at our church.
And the Lord has been kind to us here by giving us very clear instructions about who is, and who is not suitable for leadership in the church. In 1 Timothy 3, we find the qualifications for elders and deacons. Elders are those called to lead through governance, while deacons are those called to lead through service.
I. The Qualifications of an Elder (1 Tim 3:1-7)
Let’s first take a look at what makes a great Elder.
1TI 3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
a) The task of an Elder
An Elder has the task of governing the church. He’s a regulator so to speak. It’s the Elder’s task to keep the church on track. First he keeps a check on the churches health by ensuring that we always operate within Biblical guidelines. The Elder has the task of keeping spiritual oversight of the church.
And second the Elder is to champion the cause of the gospel. That means the Elder encourages the church on to fulfil the mission Christ called us to in the world – the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
There are a couple of things that an Elder is not ....
First, “Elder” doesn’t necessarily mean “older” (1 Timothy 4:12) Just because someone is old does not mean they are mature (We’ve all seen people in that sad state!). An Elder is meant to exhibit wisdom, patience, discernment, and leadership. These things come from experience not necessarily age.
Second, an Elder is not necessarily a preacher or a teacher either. In 1 Timothy 5:17 the apostle Paul writes .....
1TI 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
Which implies that some Elders do not preach or teach.
So these are the tasks of an Elder. Now, what character qualities should we be looking for?
b) The character qualities of an Elder
Well 1 Timothy 3:2-7 is fairly clear about the kind of character an Elder should possess.
1TI 3:2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1TI 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1TI 3:4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
1TI 3:5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
1TI 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil.
1TI 3:7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
Two men were once stopped for speeding. One was a lawyer the other was a young high school drop-out. The police officer gave a heavy fine to the lawyer and docked him some demerit points. But he let the drop-out off with a warning. The lawyer protested the harsh treatment he had received, but the police officer said, “Sir you know the law and so you are under a greater responsibility to be an example of it.”
Likewise, Elders are under greater responsibility to be living examples of Jesus Christ and his character.
II. The Call of the Deacon
Now what about Deacons? Well, Paul writes this about what we should look for in a Deacon ....
1TI 3:8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
1TI 3:9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
1TI 3:10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
1TI 3:11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
1TI 3:12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.