1 Timothy 3:1-7
“shepherds to serve under Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) – men called by Christ, equipped by Christ, instilled with desire to serve by Christ, given to church by Christ” – from last week’s sermon. One piece missing: no apostles to “appoint elders in every church” (Acts 14:23) like Paul and Barnabas. If there were, wouldn’t need passages like this in 1 Tim. and Titus; apostles knew what they were doing, would just keep on with work. Instructions given to the church for purpose: so the church would know how to recognize those whom Christ has given to the church.
You might say: “we already figured that out, we have a shepherd”. True enough; but apostles appointed elders in every church. Furthermore, Missions 101, Romans 10:13-15 says this:
“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Means local church must be able to recognize both those whom Christ has supplied for her own needs and those Christ would have them send out to plant more churches. So,… those of you who’ve been around the meeting-house a while, have some spiritual maturity and wisdom, should work to gain a basic understanding of qualifications for leadership given here in 1 Timothy and parallel passages. Then,… regularly, look around this church on Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings, and Monday nights and Thursday nights and ask the question: has God gifted that man to be a future leader of his church? If you believe you recognize on so gifted, speak to the pastors.
So, what are things we should be looking for, prepared to recognize in those called to servant-leadership? Samuel charged with appointing successor to King Saul – 1 Sam. 16:7. From God’s perspective, essential criterion – not what the man can do, rather what sort of man he is. In short, a servant-leader at home and in the church in how he thinks, feels and acts – intellectual, emotional, volitional qualities – and with proven track record. In God’s way of doing things, character does matter. To help us understand details, will be considering primarily 1 Timothy text, also bringing in parallel passage from Titus as appropriate.
A. umbrella qualification v.2a, 7
irreproachable / unimpeachable – dominating characteristic, pulls rest of list in under it
man of integrity – against whom a charge of wrongdoing will not stick
known as one who is “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil”Job 1:1
worthy of his good reputation – character and piety match what he professes and teaches
a good testimony in the community
does not imply agreement with all his beliefs; does mean his public conduct reflects well on Christ and his church
if Satan can bring shepherd’s reputation into question, if there is just cause for reproach, devil has scored big one against the church
who will trust finances to one who doesn’t pay bills; trust innermost thoughts to one who can’t keep a confidence; rely on guidance from one repeatedly missing the mark
one who demonstrates Christ-likeness in private and public life
if Christ is King of his church, his ambassadors must have character like the king to properly represent him
if Christ is Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) of his flock, all other shepherds must have character like the Chief Shepherd to properly care for the sheep
If Christ is Overseer of your souls (1 Pet. 2:25), those appointed to serve under his oversight must have character like his to effectively watch over the flock
if Christ is Head of the church (Eph. 5:23), all parts of the body are to be subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24), holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27)
B. personal holiness v.2b-3
► the husband of one wife – faithful to his wife in both thought and act; not having wandering eyes, not flirtatious, able to be trusted in all circumstances, setting proper boundaries; who is as concerned for character and reputation of others as for himself
► temperate / not quick-tempered (Tit. 1:7) – clear-headed, deliberate in thought and action, not reactionary; careful in all situations, alert to both immediate circumstances and inherent dangers – thinks about things leading to things
► sober-minded – discreet and self-controlled; thoughtful and serious; disciplined thought processes combined with wisdom that results in good judgment, wise counsel for others
► of good behavior / a lover of good (Tit. 1:8) – respectable in his own behavior and loving what is good in others; both practicing and promoting what is honorable
to sum up these three: orderly in thought and life, not given to mood swings, keeps his head when others lose theirs
► hospitable – φιλοξενον, literally lover of strangers; nothing said about cooking, not even specifically related to home; simply means one who is warm and welcoming and available to others, to strangers and guests – will receive anyone graciously in any setting whether in person or by other means
► not given to wine – a particular flavor of self-discipline: staying in control of thought and action, not relinquishing control to other things – alcohol, drugs, coffee, candy corn, anything that will impair judgment and godly behavior
► not violent – not one who is quick to argue, who majors on the minors, not a bully; remember, he’s a shepherd, a servant-leader who leads, not drives; means he cannot use position in overbearing way. Peter puts it this way:
1 Peter 5:3 “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
► not greedy for money / greedy for gain (Tit. 1:7) – not in it for the money; in fact, it’s good when money isn’t on the radar because the sheep take care of the shepherd’s needs. Attitude of both shepherd and sheep should be one of giving, not getting; of serving, not being served.
► gentle – one who is gracious in dealing with others, who seeks to bring about change patiently; fair and courteous, who will yield to others rather than maintain his own rights
► not quarrelsome – not promoting an “us against them” attitude/atmosphere, making points at the other guy’s expense. True, are to guard flock from error, but… must keep the real enemy in sight: not this group or that individual or the other so-called church that are doing it all wrong who are the enemy. It’s a spiritual battle, primary weapon is truth, word of God, that must be kept central.
► not covetous – more concerned with people than stuff, consequently generous with what he has; when interacting with others, radar is tuned to their needs, how to meet them
have you noticed – what we’ve just covered are all issues of character, not skill; not something covered by aptitude test, not addressed in college or seminary lecture hall. Desire/aspiring to office isn’t enough; God the Holy Spirit through his Word declares one who aspires must meet these qualifications – must be this kind of person – in order to be considered as a shepherd or overseer.
C. discipler v.2g; Titus 1:9
able to teach – commission given to Jesus disciples in Matt. 28:19-20: make disciples of all nations, …teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Stands to reason Christ would give teachers to his church, would require teaching ability in overseers.
more extensive description of teaching task given in Titus: “holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.”
must be both a student of the word (1 TIm. 5:17) and a communicator of the word who has absolute confidence in the word
for shepherd to give out nourishment from God’s word to others, must be taking in nourishment for himself
for overseer to guard against doctrinal error and correct those who fall into it, must first have grasp of true doctrine
2 Tim. 2:25 “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.”
must also have ability to effectively instruct others so they have understanding of truth – both correcting what is wrong, explaining what is right
to carry out Great Commission, must be able to communicate principles, not just spit out facts
requires an understanding of biblical principles, ability to discern which principle or principles are relevant and how they apply to particular circumstances
in making disciples and teaching them, new disciples learn not only principles but process; can then train disciples in their own sphere of influence: parents/children; older men/younger men; older women/younger women.
interesting to note: we train preachers. Bible colleges and seminaries require classes in homiletics, the art of preaching. Even internet sensations, 8-year old boys in suits that you can watch on YouTube, touted as next-generation preachers. But Christ didn’t give the church preachers – he gave and continues to give shepherd-teachers who feed the flock and make disciples and, yes, preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). Preaching the Gospel, preaching the whole counsel of God is something the shepherd does, but not who he is. First and foremost, he is servant-leader called and equipped by Christ to feed Christ’s lambs (John 21:15).
Two more categories, important enough must wait until next time to address them. Think back to where we began: these qualifications are here so local church will be able to recognize both those whom Christ has supplied for her own needs and those Christ would have them send out. They are sorts of qualities that take time to discern in context of ongoing relationship. May it please the Lord of the Church to bless her with shepherds – those who will stay and care for the local flock, those who will go and lead Christ’s lambs in other places. And may God grant wisdom and discernment to recognize those shepherds whom he has given to the church.
What unifies the flock is union with Christ, the dear Lamb of God who gave his life for the sheep on that old rugged cross. Be sure to thank God for that great gift of our salvation, and also for his continual tender care of his people.