So many today do not desire to be in Christian service because they don’t want the
constraints placed on them by the conditions of service stated in these “Pastoral Epistles”. However, no one perfectly attains to these “personal conditions” but everyone in the church should aspire to them as they reflect what God is like; and every believer should desire to grow in God’s likeness. Then if God does call you to service, you will be ready for it. We cannot expect there people of high caliber to rise up and lead a body of people, when the body from which they come from wants to settle for mediocrity (this is true for the politics of a nation as well as in a church). Yet when everyone in the pool strives for excellence, then choosing leaders is easy. Obviously there are some who are better trained and gifted for such ministry, but lifestyle choices should not be the limiting factor.
Overseers and Deacons
1 Tim 3 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.
8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Chief Shepherd of the church. What is nobler than working with me as my “under shepherds” being about my work by tending my flock?
I AM the source of truth and godliness so if you desire such a post, you need to want to be just like me. I AM sincere, real, above reproach, the husband of but one wife – my bride the church, I am temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, sober, gentle, peaceable, giving. I do manage my family well and see that my children obey me with proper respect. Nobody can fault my reputation. This is what I am like, so this is what I desire of anyone who would be my under shepherds. My representatives must be like me in this regard – walking uprightly and exemplary before this wicked world.
Remember that since the world hated me because my righteousness exposed their wicked deeds, so too they will hate you, therefore don’t give them a bigger target than necessary by an unruly or hypocritical life. My goal is so that the world will see the mystery of my godliness at work in men and want it for themselves and that the world would see the difference between external religion and inner righteousness.
People are looking for individuals who live by their convictions, whose lives are driven by my vision. When you have my vision for the world, you must evaluate everything that you chase after in this life by my word and then people will follow you.
Any society understands the necessity for exemplary lives among their leaders. Any one of the vices mentioned in this passage can be a pitfall for a good leader. The person who has control over their life in these areas has something of value to share with others. Simply setting rules and regulations for people to follow does not have the ability to provide the power necessary for them to overcome sin. Only the chief shepherd can give the power. You as an under shepherd can only lead people to God in order for them to receive the power necessary to change. Paul says “follow me as I follow Christ.” And elsewhere he says “you know what kind of life that I lived among you for your sake”.
It is therefore important that under shepherds bring up people in the nurture of the Lord not just lead them to him for salvation. Salvation is the beginning, not the end. Salvation does not magically instill all knowledge, rather it gives the power to learn, and the ability to understand the vastness of the mystery of godliness which must be taught and which takes years to assimilate. This is why the great commission is about discipleship, not just evangelism.
On a cultural note:
Travel to another country and you will eventually experience “culture shock” regarding the host country. It is easy to overlook “material things and habits” that are different than ours, but not so easy when it comes to personal traits like hygiene and mannerisms. But each culture has attributes which reveal a lacking in our own society and particularly in our own idea of church. As a missionary in Papua New Guinea I witnessed the social interdependency and interpersonal concern in their society (regardless of their inner motives), that we lack in the western church. Yet at the same time I struggled with the way that they disciplined their children (or lack thereof), and how they treat their women. God’s word is the only way that brings positive change to a society. And you man or woman of God are the example by which God wants to use to exemplify this change.
More to come,