We continue then with Paul’s letter to Timothy. Today Paul, the church planter, writes to Timothy, the church leader, with instructions on how this fledgling fellowship should be led and supported. Within the structure of the letter, within the who-is-writing-to-who-about-what we begin to see God’s model for church leadership.
Today in 1 Timothy 3.7, the character of the men needed to help Timothy lead spiritually. Does that mean that if you’re not appointed to serve as an Elder you should never focus on these character qualities? Absolutely not!
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
There will never be a church in the world where every single man who demonstrates these character qualities is actively serving as an Elder, because, in theory every man, and woman for that matter, should be working to display these qualities in their everyday life.
Being appointed to serve as an Elder should be seen as separate from simply being an Elder in character, something we all must do.
The character needed (an overseer MUST be…) is far more important than the actual structure within which these traits are deployed. It’s better to have a church full of Elder-like people than have only a handful, for sure.
We see, then, that in this passage it all comes down to character, not gifting or ability.
We are all called to serve God (Hebrews 9.14), we are all uniquely gifted (1 Corinthians 12), but the character of a mature and maturing believer is something we should all aspire to regardless of age, gender, gifting, appointment, calling, or service.
Today then, let us be believers who are outwardly demonstrating our growing maturity in the Lord by the character we display, let us all work towards being Elders in character.