Paul warned the church to beware of defective leaders. The primary purpose of the first letter to Timothy was to warn against false leaders.
He told Timothy to correct the very problematic situation.
“Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions” (1 Timothy 1.6-7).
Leadership by Example
Accurate teaching and an exemplary character go well together. They are a powerful combination that strengthens the church and gains respect in the world.
Paul did not provide a job description for leaders. His emphasis was on good behavior that provided an example to the congregation and community.
A series of contrasts display the best example of a leader: “Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3.3).
If the church wants to have a stained reputation in a city, its leaders should succumb to the negative traits in this verse.
Imagine trying to get someone to trust Jesus when leaders are drunk, violent, quarrelsome, and greedy.
One of the largest problems in Ephesus was the love of money. Paul returned to this theme near the end of his letter.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6.10).
When leaders seek wealth and power, they are in a dangerous place.
Jesus taught us what to seek. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33).
The Household Example
The standard for leaders in Ephesus involved family life. Paul wrote that a Christian leader’s home should reflect their commitment to Christ.
A leader should “manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3.4-5).
My family members would have resisted the term “submissive.” They may accept the idea that the term was used in the Roman senate to refer to one senator yielding what was rightfully his to another.
When a husband loves his family with self-giving love, family members are more likely to follow his lead.
Loving and leading like Jesus is an example for the church to follow. That is what leaders are called to do.
Higher Levels Bigger Devils
It is a true saying that the higher a person goes in leadership the possibility of temptation also increases.
The devil is always at work attempting to discredit the church before the world.
Paul counseled Timothy about leaders and wrote, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3.6).
Immature leaders may have been a problem in Ephesus. The first two chapters highlight problems and solutions to what happens when immature people seek leadership positions.
It was Timothy’s job and that of the church today to protect the people of God and our witness from immature leaders.
Rounding Out the Discussion
Paul began his instruction about leaders by saying they should be “above reproach” (verse 2).
After a list of important character traits, he emphasized the need for an exemplary life.
“Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3.7)
How can we be above reproach and not be disgraced by the snares of the devil? The best way is to strive to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
That is true for leaders and all followers of Jesus.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.