Friday, May 9, 2014

So you want to lead?


1Timothy 3:1The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. 2  Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4  He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way-- 5  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church? 6  He must not be a recent convert, or he may be 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 and the snare of the devil. 8  Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; 9  they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10  And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. 11  Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12  Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; 13  for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

If you were to look for people to fill positions as church leaders, what kind of people would you want? I suspect we often appoint people who have shown success in their lives – they hold down prestigious jobs; they are popular in the community; they are capable managers of people. All too often churches manage themselves like businesses, and so we look for leaders who are successful in business, thinking that they will become successful church leaders.

The two offices of church leader mentioned in 1 Timothy are  πρεσβύτερος / elder, and  διάκονος  / deacon. Churches have variously translated these names as bishop/minister/presbyter and steward/deacon/leader respectively. While the names used do not really matter, the qualities listed in 1 Timothy 3 as requirements for a church leader remain unchanged: these are all about moral character rather than success at business: “temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable... not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money”. In the light of our recent national elections, I would suggest that the same values ought to be expected from political leaders. 

Pray for your church leadership – that they might grow the qualities of Godly leadership. Now think of one church leader you know who you can encourage in his/her walk with Jesus.   

A humble, lowly, contrite, heart,
Believing, true and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Christ who dwells within.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
Come quickly from above;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love.
Words: Charles Wes­ley, Hymns and Sac­red Po­ems, 1742.

Fourth  Sunday of Easter
The Good Shepherd
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 160.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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