1It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile.2That's why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers, and able to teach.3They must not be heavy drinkers or troublemakers. Instead, they must be kind and gentle and not love money.
4Church officials must be in control of their own families, and they must see that their children are obedient and always respectful.5If they don't know how to control their own families, how can they look after God's people?
6They must not be new followers of the Lord. If they are, they might become proud and be doomed along with the devil.7Finally, they must be well respected by people who are not followers. Then they won't be trapped and disgraced by the devil.
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
For the church to effectively proclaim the message of the Gospel and coordinate the activities of the members, there needs to be good management. That is, there needs to be a church official (vv.1-7) and officers (vv.8-13), literally “overseer” or “bishop” (v.1) and “servants” or “deacons” (v.8) to facilitate the work of evangelism (proclaiming the Gospel, 2:4) and discipleship (teaching/modelling truth, 2:4).
Every church has to grapple with who leads and who helps. We can’t all be leaders with no helpers or all helpers with no leaders. So Paul describes the qualities we should look for in a leader and the helpers.
Surprisingly, Paul doesn’t really focus on the skills, gifts, or experience of a leader, except for being “able to teach” (v.2). Nor is there mention of the things we usually see in a resume; like education, expertise or employment history. That’s because church management should be in the hands of someone with good character, more so than ability. Who a leader is, is ultimately more important than what they do.
Concerning character; the leader “must have a good reputation” (v.2) – a term covering all aspects of inward and outward behaviour. There’s to be no observable grounds for blame and no accusation that can be raised against them. It’s not that they must be perfect, but they “must be above reproach” (NIV). To explain; Paul describes the length, depth and breadth of a potential leader.
Length – How long have they been a Christian? They should be seasoned, tested and mature in the way of Christ, i.e. they mustn’t be a recent convert (v.6). Depth – Is their obedience to Christ shallow or deep? Their faithfulness in marriage, self-control and moderation (vv.2-3) are good signs that they’ll be trustworthy in other areas. Breadth – Is their faith in Christ evident in private and public life? The way they govern their home (v.4-5) and conduct themselves with non-Christians (v.7) are good indications of whether or not they’ll be able to model the “faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 1:14 (NIV).
Lord, we pray for our leaders. May their kindness, gentleness, sensible ways, friendliness, hospitality and faithfulness to Christ be sustained and strengthened as an example to others of the love of Christ. Amen.