CHARACTER AND GIFTING
Lord, keep my eye focused on the forward motion of the local church.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 3:1–7
Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons
3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of the last time someone challenged you about how you’re living. How did you respond? Looking back, to what extent was the challenge justified?
One of Paul’s first actions was to remove at least two people from leadership in the Ephesian church. It appears that speculation and lobbying began quickly as to who should be appointed instead (1). Paul is not offended by this, but he wants those aspiring to the noble task to know what it requires. He emphasizes the kind of leadership needed to restore order and stability to a church that has been shaken. For example, drunkenness seems to have been a particular problem in Ephesus (3,8), so it receives an emphasis not be relevant for most situations. Likewise, the ban on recent converts becoming church leaders (6) would stifle many fruitful church planting movements around the world—perhaps the church in Ephesus was a case of once bitten, twice shy. The emphasis upon self-control and a refusal to get involved in angry, violent disputes again seems tailored to a problematic church plagued with quarrels. The need for restoration is never far from view.
Timothy is to choose leaders who will effectively inspire trust, both inside the church and without, with Paul stressing character almost exclusively over gifting (the only exception being
teaching). The goal is to settle the turbulence so that the church can resume normal operations and flourish.
Sometimes those with great gifts (especially when charm is added into the mix) aren’t held to the same standard as others. Regardless of how impressive someone’s gifts may be, leaders must be held accountable, for their own sake as much as for the sake of God’s household: anything else risks the equilibrium of the church. Character and gifts both matter, but in a restoration situation like Ephesus, character is the sine qua non of an effective remedy.
If you’re in leadership, how are you accountable and to whom? For all of us, to whom have we given permission to ask us tough questions?
Lord, deal with our leaders so that they may shine and inspire rather than deteriorate and embarrass.
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