1 TIMOTHY 3:1-7 GOOD FRUIT – GOOD LEADERSHIP
1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one 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 with proper 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.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to be in a leadership position in the Church. It is not the desire but rather the motive that determines the quality of the aspiration. Selfish ambition, a desire for power and prestige, is never an acceptable motivation. In contrast, wanting to fulfill God’s call to serve him and his people for the advancement of his kingdom is a matter of joyful obedience.
At the same time, as Jesus said, a tree will be known by its fruit (Luke 6:44). Leaving room for godly intervention (usually publically manifested), the general rule is that a call is validated in the community by the manner in which the one called lives his or her life. The qualifications that are listed are important because they are windows to the heart of the one aspiring to be a pastoral leader. Like the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), they reveal a concern and consideration of others through the exercise of other-centered living.
The agenda for the aspiring leader in the Church must be God’s agenda and not to attain a bully pulpit for the propagation of some political or social program. One who is truly called into such leadership will primarily want God to be glorified by his life and ministry and to be a vehicle for the spreading of God’s grace and the knowledge of that grace to the people, both in and outside the church community. In order to accomplish this, the aspiring leader must have invested his or her life in studying God’s word and applying it in everyday living.
Whether or not you receive a call to leadership, St. Paul’s teaching here is important. First, for those who might think they have a call, it is essential instruction. Second, for those who have not yet perceived a call, you will never now if God is calling if you do not aspire to live such a life. And third, for those who do not have a call, you have a role in helping discern that call in the lives of others and the responsibility of elevating proper witnesses to God in the greater community.
Thank you Lord, that you have provided clear criteria for leadership in your Church. Help me to aspire to live according to this expression of your will regardless of my perception of a call to pastoral office in my life. May I be a faithful witness in my personal, family and public life. Amen.