"Leadership that Works"
God's plan for the church is not just about the roles of men and women; it's also about the leadership within the church. God placed qualified men in the role of elders and deacons.
Keys to Effective Leadership
(1 Tim. 3)
A. After Gideon’s death Abimelech formed a conspiracy with his mother’s family, who seem to have had considerable influence in Shechem. The argument used was the advantage of the rule of one person over that of seventy. He also reminded them that he was one of them. The Shechemites furnished him with money out of the treasure, with which Abimelech hired desperate men and killed all his brothers save Jotham, the youngest, who hid himself.
B. At a general assemblage of the men of Shechem, Abimelech was declared king. When Jotham was told of the election of Abimelech he went to the top of Mt. Gerizim, where the Shechemites were assembled for some public purpose, perhaps to inaugurate Abimelech, and rebuked them in his famous parable of the trees choosing a king. The parable goes like this. (Judg 9:7-15)
C. The meaning of the parable that Jotham gives is that people want leadership. People look to others for leadership. But when good leaders cannot be found or when good men do not lead, someone will. The trees turned to the thorn bush; the briar has nothing to offer. The call for “trust in my shadow” is a lie, for it cannot bring what it claims. The desire for leadership is so great that people will even trust the wrong leadership verses no leadership. But in the end, the wrong leadership will ruin everything the people desire.
I. The Benefit of Good Leadership
A. Our text this morning give us the characteristics of godly leadership in the local congregation. People whom Paul called elders. This group was not new to Ephesus. The writing of this letter is generally accepted to be anywhere from 6 to 10 years after Paul had been in Ephesus and established elders in that very congregation. We know that in Acts 20, he calls for those original elders to meet him in Miletus and he tells them that from among them (probably meaning the eldership in general, not necessarily those specific men, would come elders who would desire to draw people away from the truth for their own power). We know that at the time Paul wrote Timothy this letter, the very thing Paul warned those elders about was happening in Ephesus.
B. Have you ever stopped to ask why God makes such a call for spiritual leadership within churches? Not only here and with Titus on the island of Crete, but throughout the New Testament, men are called to help a church become what God desires.
C. Sometimes a church gets a good preachers and teachers. Men who study, pray, and do the ministry for which the Holy Spirit enables them. Sometimes a church also gets formal leadership with elders and deacons. But in every church of any size leadership exists. The question becomes, are they good leaders.
D. Good leaders bring vision to a congregation. They help the church see beyond today and look to the calling God has given. Good leaders bring unity to a church by teaching and helping to show the need each member has to help the body. Good leaders bring guidance to the sinful. Paul says that those who are spiritual should restore the sinful gently, carrying each others burdens and teaching how we can also mature and carry our own. That last phrase from Gal 6:1 is not directed to elders, but to any good spiritual Christians who by very nature becomes a type of leader within a local congregation.
E. The need for spiritual leadership is so great that God wanted to make sure we would know how to appoint men to such roles. Paul will give Timothy and Titus each a list. This list is both a list of criteria and an expose on character.
II. Elders/Overseers/Shepherds: Desire and Overall Being
A. As Paul has first directed the males of the congregation to be leaders of the worship, he now directs Timothy to appoint elders and deacons (both of which are male terms) in leadership roles in Ephesus. He tells Timothy what to look for in such a leader.
B. I love Paul’s use of the phrase “The saying is trustworthy.” It is one we read earlier in (1 Tim. 1:15). He will use it again in chapter 4:9, twice in 2 Timothy, and again in Titus. Paul uses this phrase to drive home a powerful point, one he wants to make sure Timothy realizes is powerful. Here is the phrase: (1 Tim. 3:1)
C. If anyone “aspires” or “desires” or “sets his heart on” becoming an overseer (that word is used synonymously with the word “elder” or “shepherd”), this man “desires” a good or noble task. The Holy Spirit directs Paul to tell Timothy to look for men who are looking to do this great work of being spiritual leaders.
D. For a man to help lead a church that person’s character must be above reproach. The word picture painted in the Greek language is “not able to be held.” It is a legal term which says that they could not be held in prison. It does not mean that they have not sinned or never fail, but it does mean that their life is shown to all as a model for others. As Paul would say, “follow me as I follow Christ.” It is almost as though “above reproach” is the key to understanding all the rest of the list that Paul writes.
III. Deacons: Spiritual Servants of God’s House
A. Paul doesn’t just tell Timothy about the role of Overseers, but also the need for a group of men called Deacons. (1 Tim. 3:8-13)
B. Too many churches have treated Deacons as either junior elders or people to do the grunt work of the elders. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a separate role, not a stepping stone. Good deacons may never become elders. It might not be their gift by the Spirit of God. Instead, they are gifted servants. But not just men who do the physical work while the elders do the spiritual work. That idea can demean the office of an a deacon.
C. God calls for these men to “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” That is spiritual. Deacons are spirit led servants who lead ministries and activities within the local congregation in such a man as to serve the church so that we can all grow up in wisdom of Jesus.
A. We need men who know the word of God, teach the word of God, live the word of God and exhort others through the word of God. Why not choose a good man with human leadership skills to become a church leader? Because we are not about human leadership – but spiritual leadership. I desire spiritual leadership, biblical leadership, and effective leadership.
B. Paul told Timothy that “this is how the people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household.” Remember, we are not talking about “our” church, but “God’s household.” We come together as a family. In every family there are roles that bring out the strengths and the character of different people in the family. The family of God, the church, is not that different than the physical family of husband, wife, kids. Each have a role that bring out the strengths of the family.
C. We are blessed to have two men whom this church as appointed as elders, three men whom we have appointed as deacons, and many people – men and women – who help to build of those men by supporting them and following them as they follow Christ.
D. When the church comes together, we do so for the purpose of worshipping God and building up each other spiritually. Different people have different gifts to help that take place. Use your gift for God’s glory and our benefit. If we can help you find your place of service to God in this family, please come as we stand and sing.