Paul wanted Timothy to choose church leaders whose lifestyles had godly integrity. Even the non-believers could be able to see that these people are well disciplined and are able to live in such a way that others are encouraged to godly lives. Godliness should start at home. A faithful husband who is able to bring out the best in his wife and children is the sort of person who may be considered for church leadership.
Of course, it is important for church leaders to have spiritual gifts and skills, especially the ability to teach; but the person’s character is of first importance. Drunkenness, violence and quarrelling do not honour the Lord, nor does self-importance. The Lord is looking for leaders who demonstrate self-control, hospitality and a well ordered family. Age does not necessarily bring wisdom and Paul appointed some young leaders, like Timothy. But new converts might be tempted to be conceited if selected too soon, and such a responsibility would not be good for them or for the church.
Does that mean that church leaders are perfect? No; neither is any believer! But this ‘selection list’ should be a spur to all of us so that we may be usable in God’s service. This list sets the standard which the Lord expects of His servants. Where we see that our characters need to be refined, then we should repent and ask the Lord’s help so that we will change. Where wrong habits have taken over, we need to recognise what needs to be transformed and actively cooperate with the Lord until our pattern of life consistently honours the Lord. It is easy to criticise our leaders, but instead we need to pray for them and their families. And when we have the responsibility to authorise people to take spiritual responsibility, we need to pray for wisdom to discern their character as well as their gifts and skills.
© Dr Paul Adams