Sunday School Material 3-13-11: Qualifications of Spiritual Leaders
(I Timothy 3:1-13; 3/13/11)
Introduction: A key idea in today's Sunday School material is that those in leadership should live up to God's standards. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to be godly leaders and support the idea of godly leadership standards.
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Read I Timothy 3:1-7
I. Qualification for Bishops. In this section of the Sunday School material Paul talks about the qualifications of Bishops, which we would call Pastors.
Bishops are to be blameless. They are to be able to teach. The candidate's family is a test case for the ability to care for the family of God.
- A desire to be a leader. Notice in vs. 1 of the Sunday School material that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be leader. The text says that it is good for a man to desire to be a Bishop.
Where too many people go wrong is that they have wrong motives and methods. Some want to be leader, so people will have to bow down to them or so they can more important than others (i.e., bad motives).
Some strive to be leaders, by tearing existing leaders down, and some try to buy the support of others, by doing favors for them (i.e., bad methods). More noble motives include that you believe that God has called you to do a great service for Him.
You believe God has given you the character and competencies that are needed for the job. God's method includes being faithful over small things, before being given a chance to be ruler over many.
We learned from the Sunday School material that God's method includes working on both character and competencies. Let's work on promoting godly motives and methods for leadership.
We can support this application by not being a part of trying to put people in positions who don't have the godly character and competencies to handle the handle the positions.
- Blameless leaders. Notice in vss. 2-7 of the Sunday School material that the Bishop is to be blameless. For example, he is to have a godly family, self controlled (e.g., not given to wine, not a striker, etc.), hospitable, and able to teach.
First, all who aspire to be a Bishop (i.e., Pastor or church leader) or who are Bishops should strive to live up to what God expects out of them. No matter what people allow, the Judgment Seat of Christ is still coming.
Second, we should strive to select those who are striving to live up to the standard of God, when it is time to discern who God is sending as our Pastor or when church leaders are being selected. Popularity and seniority are not the best criteria.
Third, some of these matters are subjective and sometimes a person may come up short in an area or two. We should not use this list as a legalistic strait jacket. But it should surely be used by Pastors and people alike, as a strong guide.
Let's strive to be and have the best church leaders possible. This will call for disciples making themselves available for leadership.
It will call for the maturity to select the best trained disciples for leadership, instead of the more politically correct.
- Proven leaders. Notice in vss. 4-7 of the Sunday School material that how a person does with small things is often an indicator of how that person will do with larger things.
Notice that the Bishop is to do well with his family, his ability to stay with the Lord for a while (i.e., not a novice), and his ability to live in the real world (i.e., out of church reputation – credit, drugs, criminal history, work references, personal references, etc.).
This principle is true for Bishops and all who serve as leaders in God's church. This is why simple things like studying, serving, giving, completing Training Union, and the like are so important.
If a person cannot do these simply things them an almost predicable outcome can be expected when the person is given even more to do.
Let's work on upholding the principle of "be faithful over a few things, as a test of what one will do with many." Again, living out this principle may well mean that some of our friends will be over looked for leadership positions, because they have not been faithful in smaller maters.
Read I Timothy 3:8-13
II. Qualifications for Deacons. Paul goes on to talk about the Deacons in this section of the Sunday School material. They are to be blameless. They are to prove themselves, before they occupy the office of a Deacon.
Their wives are to be blameless and faithful also. There are blessings associated with doing a great job of being a Deacon.
- Qualified Deacons. Notice in vss. 8-10, 12 of the Sunday School material that those who sit in the office of a Deacon are to be self controlled, known for living by the Word of God with good conscious, and proven.
So much of what was said about the Bishop's character is true of the Deacon's as well. Notice further that the term Deacon means "servant." Servants are to serve under the authority of the Bishop, as those who are mature disciples or strong Christians.
It is embarrassing to see a Deacon more noted for anger issues, arrogance, slowfulness in service, absence in study and prayer, and incompetence regarding special assignments than in meeting the high standard of sitting in the office of the Deacon.
Too many churches have used this office to recruit men, and too often we have embarrassed the office, by allowing men who don’t fit the profile to linger. Let's give more effort to having only those who are obviously striving to meet the biblical profile of a Deacon in the office of Deacon.
- Deaconnesses. Notice in vs. 11 of the Sunday School material that the wives of Deacons are to be known for their self control and faithfulness. Some think this text is a reference to what may be referred to as a Deaconness.
It would not be wise to have a man serve as a Deacon and his wife is against it or an obvious distraction to what the church is trying to be (e.g., she is a known gossip, a loose woman, etc.).
As for every Deacon's wife being forced into the role of what we call a Deaconness, this doesn’t make sense for every Deacon's wife, and it excludes many good women who could be great Deaconnesses. Furthermore, the church has a deep untapped well of resources in women.
When there are women who are more faithful and competent than the existing Deacons who can only be communion tray washing, communion cloth draping, white outfit wearing, repast food serving servants then the church is being extremely inefficient, and, in some cases, oppressive to women.
Let's pray that God would move more churches to see that women can do more than domestic work, in the church. The Pastor believes that Deaconness should be viewed as female Deacons, not as simply a little service group of the church.
- Blessings of faithful service. Notice in vs. 13 of the Sunday School material that the good Deacon is blessed with a good reputation and boldness in Christ.
A disciple knows the value of having not only a good reputation with people but more importantly a good reputation and track record with God. A disciple knows that a part of having a good reputation should be boldness in Christ.
Every Deacon should be able to boldly lead someone to Christ, give a testimony about the goodness of the Lord, and demonstrate faithfulness, in spite of trying times.
Thank God a good reputation and boldness in Christ is also for any disciple who is willing to be faithful to the Lord. Let's strive to be faithful in the Lord, so that we can experience the blessings that God has for us.
Conclusion: Let's work on being godly leaders and supporting the idea of godly leadership standards which we learned from our Sunday School material. God has much for those who obey His will.
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