The specific issues Paul addressed to Timothy were important enough for two letters to be written. The issues have changed, but the larger points remain.
Let’s consider Paul’s message about leaders.
First Concern – Show Your Respect
Three keywords denote leaders who are worthy of respect.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 1.17).
— Elders are leaders who have age and proven experience to their credit.
— Rule well – They demonstrate their leadership through the counsel they provide others.
— Labor – They work to be able to accurately preach and teach God’s kingdom message.
Respect is shown to leaders with these attributes in a tangible way. They receive a “double honor,” or their needs are provided for by the church.
For the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” and “The laborer deserves to be paid” (1 Timothy 5.18).
I recently encountered a situation where a leader met all of the requirements listed above, but was disrespected.
As a result, the organization was deprived of his wisdom, experience, and effort.
Let’s beware that we do not participate in the disrespect of leaders God has given us.
Second Concern – Disrespect Through Speech
Gossip, slander, backbiting, and the like frequently occurs but is not acceptable. Paul set forth standards to rebuke an elder when needed.
Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear (1 Timothy 5.19-20).
If an elder needs correction, accusations should be made by two or three witnesses. If a leader fails to respond to correction, the entire church body should be involved.
Jesus gave directions for church discipline in Matthew 18.15-17 that correspond to what Paul wrote to Timothy.
The church should not participate in the kind of political discourse that is currently taking place in America. We should not join in the disrespect of leaders the way things are going today.
Did you know that it is not illegal to lie about a political candidate in advertising? Lying in politics is covered by a person’s First Amendment rights.
You can’t lie about cat food in a TV ad, but you can lie about someone who has responsibility for the leadership of our nation.
Followers of Jesus should take Paul’s direction about the respect of leaders. We should pray for them, not disrespect them.
Third Concern – Immature Leaders
Most everyone who has been around leaders for a while knows of people who have been promoted beyond their experience or maturity.
The church has the responsibility to follow Paul’s counsel concerning leaders.
Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5.22).
Whether the leaders are in the church or elected to government, we do well to consider Paul’s advice.
In his letters to Timothy, Paul wrote about the characteristics of good leaders. We do well to read the characteristics and make sure we have leaders like them.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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