Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – October 16, 2016
Theme: A Call to Christian Commitment – 1 & 2 Timothy
Topic: Fitting Behaviour for Leaders: Faithful in All Things
Main Texts: 1 Timothy 3
Key Verse: 1 Timothy 3:1: “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, as we discussed one of the foundational truths of the gospel: Fruitful Prayer and Worship: One God and One Mediator: Jesus Christ, we saw the need for us to have the mind of Christ in relation to those who may not have come to the knowledge of Christ some of whom God has nevertheless set to rule over us. Our key learning from that study include:
- While we uphold that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, we must identify with God’s interest in the entire world and see everyone – including rulers who do not necessarily acknowledge Him – as playing a part in His creation. Even rulers that do not know Him occupy their exalted positions only by God’s determination – Daniel 4:17.
- It is in our interest to uphold those that rule over us in prayer, regardless of personal political preferences or our assessment of the quality of the leadership. It is only when God directs our rulers that we can live peaceful and holy lives.
- It is appropriate for a local Church to establish rules to address the challenges posed by the culture and realities of the environment. Although such rules are not necessary for our salvation, they are acceptable to God as they help our Christian witness.
This Sunday we will be studying 1 Timothy 3 where Paul addresses the subject of Fitting Behaviour for Leaders: Faithful in All Things. This is without doubt a topic that is both exciting and sobering in our environment where unbelievers are constantly looking out for headlines of Christian leaders who slip. Our learning from the study should include the following:
- The early Church set a model for governance and leadership of a typical Church that identifies a pastoral team and an administrative team. Whichever role a leader finds himself or herself in, the requirement to be Spirit-filled, live responsibly, and have a credible testimony within and outside the Church is the same.
- Churches need to put in place structures and processes that minimise the risk of scandals in the leadership in the areas of family life and materialism. Many of today’s church scandals arise from weak structures and procedures in the appointment into leadership positions and governance.
- All in leadership positions in the Church need to be constantly aware of their ministry as having responsibility to God and the Flock, and to constantly draw strength from the Holy Spirit to live lives consistent with their profession of faith. They must take whatever practical steps the Holy Spirit guides them to take regarding their lifestyle to avoid embarrassing the faith.
As “General Overseer” of the Church at Ephesus, Timothy has the responsibility of appointing leaders for the several local Churches in the province. The entire chapter of our main text was to guide Timothy in that task. Here, Paul writes about two key leadership ranks in a Church – the Overseer, and the Deacons. Although some translations use the word “Bishop” in place of NIV’s “Overseer”, the context broadly describes the positions of our modern-day pastors and deacons. The concept of pastors and deacons has its roots in Acts 6 where the early apostles led the spiritual life of the Church as pastors, while seven men (the deacons) were appointed to handle administration. The need for deacons arose from the need for transparent administration of welfare support in that first Church.
1. (a) How does the leadership structure of your local Church compare with the structure in the early Church? (b) Do you deem that structure appropriate for today?
Verses 1 to 7 of our text gives what should be the profile of an overseer or pastor. Essentially, he should be an articulate and mature Christian with a stable family and a good testimony and reputation within and outside the Church. Paul asks a rhetorical question in v5: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”. Today, many church pastors are at the centre of scandals involving conduct and undertakings that are inconsistent with this biblical recommendation. In many cases, it turns out that such individuals had been involved in those things long before they became leaders in their Church. There have also been cases where the persons did have a good testimony and reputation before assuming Church leadership, but slid into unacceptable conduct in the course of the ministry. Some Church leaders have suggested that being married should not be seen as optional but a requirement for Church leadership as the exposure of an unmarried pastor could aggravate sexual temptation.
2. What steps can a local Church take to ensure that its leaders are in consonance with the biblical recommendation as regards ministry effectiveness and personal conduct?
We remind ourselves that when the very first set of deacons were chose for a Church (Acts 6:1-6), the primary need was to have people of integrity take charge of food distribution. The apostles profiled potential candidates as “… men who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom”. One would have thought that being “full of the Spirit” would not be critical to food distribution! It is interesting that it was one of these “food administrators” – Stephen – that bore such a powerful witness to Christ that he became the first Christian martyr (Acts 7). We see Paul telling Timothy of the need for a deacon to be disciplined, show integrity, and even to be on probation for a while before being confirmed as a deacon! (1 Timothy 3:8-10).
3. Why do so few Churches today follow the instructions in 1 Timothy 3 in the appointment of Church leaders? Do you deem it practical to implement the process recommended here in your local Church? ______________________________________________________________________________
Prayer: Father, grant our Church leaders a new awareness of their responsibility. Grant them the grace to be worthy examples in every way, and to lead us faithfully and in line with Your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.