Biblical Leadership - Healthy Leaders, Healthy Churches - Timothy 2:8-3:13 – Pastor Eric
The great coach John Wooden said about character, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Character is of the greatest concern and need in the world, where we sadly continue to see players, coaches, and team doctors in the limelight for an abuse of power and a lack of conduct. That same concern arises in the church with too many headlines of moral failures and sandals. The church has become unhealthy at moments due to a crisis of character, and it should be marked by the character of Christ, not the folly of man.
Therefore, it is imperative that we look into Scripture and understand the need for good biblical leadership for healthy churches must be led by healthy leaders, who surrender to Jesus Christ. It is fairly simple that healthy leaders produce healthy churches, where leaders are under-shepherds to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
(1) A healthy church must be led by the character of Christ. Skill, gifting, and talent are important and needed, but not in place of character. The imperative qualities of a church and its leadership must be character traits, attitudes, and actions. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
A person who desires the pastorate or eldership ought to seriously consider that calling, because it is not an ordinary job. It is not easy street or main street, but it is standing between the streets of Heaven and Hell. It is not a comfortable position, but it is an uncomfortable and heart wrenching position. Therefore, it demands nobility, respect, and the highest degree of character to be above reproach.
This is Paul’s reason for going into a laundry list of character qualities. Paul addresses personal life, family life, social life, and a spiritual life. The only skill an elder is to have is the ability to teach. Paul implies if an elder/pastor can teach the Word, then they know the Word. They must be theologically sound, because part of their duty as an elder is to shepherd the flock away from false doctrine and false teaching. Thus, the elder has the responsibility to feed and to protect the sheep. The elder must lead through both feeding and protecting with great care and love like a shepherd would with his own sheep.
Every believer should desire to be like a person of Christ-like character. Thus, let us all be challenged to be faithful in marriage and in dating. Let us be challenged to control our tempers and not to gossip but to speak kindly and gently. Let’s be convicted to be people of the Book, not YouTubers or Facebook followers, but Bible consumers. A healthy church must be led by healthy Christ consumers and godly leaders.
(2) A healthy church is led by a team, not an individual. A healthy church is governed and directed by a plurality of elders, deacons, and leaders. A healthy church can’t be centered around a single individual, only around Christ. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
Once again, Paul places a heavy emphasis on character. Paul emphasizes the personal character traits of a deacon like an elder, to be sober minded, faithful, not hot headed, and not addicted to wine. Plus, in verse 9, they are gospel people. They must firmly believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save them from their sin by grace alone.
One commentator said it well, “elders are servant leaders and deacons are leading servants.”
The elders direct and guide the church. The elders protect the church through necessary church discipline and restoration. The deacons lead servants who care for the church and the ministries of the church. They work together as one team to edify and to build up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Are you playing a part on God’s team? Or are you sitting on the sidelines just taking it all in? God calls us all into ministry, whether we are a leader or not. God has called each of us to play a part in the greatest team ever built in history, the church, for you get the opportunity to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You get the privilege to represent God. What an honor and delight!!!
(3) A healthy church serves one another through complementary responsibilities. God has created men and women to complement each other by how they serve, love, respect, and care for one another especially in the family and family of God, the church. (1 Timothy 2:8-15)
Firstly, Paul calls men into a posture of humility and leadership. Men are to diligently pray with purity and holiness. There again is the exemplary character of men to led with a dependence upon Christ. Therefore, there is no place for authoritarian or domineering leadership within the church, but Christ sufficiency and dependence.
We know that Paul is addressing women in the church, who are disrespectful and disruptive in the church and even in the church service. But verse 12 says, I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority. A better translation is I do not allow a woman to teach. In the Greek, this is actually not in the imperative form. So, it’s not a commandment for all time.
Paul is not saying women can’t speak in church. Paul is not saying women have to be mute or silent in church. Paul is also not saying that women can’t teach or be leaders in the church. In other places, Paul encourages women to pray, to teach, and to lead in the church. Scripture is filled with women leaders like Esther, Deborah, Priscilla, and Phoebe.
Women are to be in leadership. Women are to teach in the church. There is a complementary relationship, role, and responsibility that Paul gives in verse 13 to 15. Paul is not saying Eve is lesser than Adam. Paul is not saying that Eve is more of a sinner than Adam. Adam shares in the responsibility of the Fall, and he failed in leadership and protection of his wife.
The Genesis 1 and the creation account does imply a prescriptive timeless truth for men and women in the church. There is a creation order and distinction for both men and women to serve one another and to serve the church. This reflects the very nature of women and men, and their God-given spiritual responsibilities to lead in love and to lead in respect.
That men are to lead in loving their wives and to love the church like Christ did. Men must own up to their responsibility to die for the church by protecting it through sacrificial and selfless love. In Ephesians 5, it talks about the relationship of husband and wife and further all relationships of men and women, whether married or single. One can apply that same relationship to the church, where the men have a responsibility to love and to do so give up self for his wife and Christ’s bride the church. This leadership responsibility of sacrificial love is not given to the woman, but only to the man.
Genesis 1 and 1 Timothy provide a picture of a woman’s responsibility. Women are to respect and to honor Christ and the church. Men lead with loving kindness, and women lead with spiritual respect and submission. Spiritual submission is never meant to put women down, but lift them up to a place of honor. It is seen through the lens of Christ, who submitted Himself to the Father in order to honor His Father and save the world. It is a model of Christ, never to be walked over, but serve with power in the Lord. Spiritual submission is not a passive attitude, silent behavior, or not compliant servitude, but it is strength in humility.
This can be seen and modeled through church leadership, where women lead and serve in the church with the final responsibility of leading given to men. So that, a church values men and women with equality, and the church aims to fulfill men and women’s God given complementary responsibilities that may be represented by specific leading roles.
The question becomes, do you represent God’s calling of character and responsibility? Are you a women of godliness and grace? Are you a woman of respect and dignity toward others? Are you a leader in your home and in the church? Does character, faithfulness, and lovingkindness of God define who you are?
Are you a man of prayer? Are you lifting up holy hands to the Lord? Are you a man of sacrificial love letting go of your own self and wants before your spouse or your sisters in Christ? Does character, faithfulness, and the purity of Christ define who you are?
Character ought to define us, because character defined Christ. And at the end of the day, we look not to people or human leaders, but Christ. We lean not on our own strength, intelligence, or power. Rather we lean on Christ, the perfect example of leadership, who humbled Himself and submitted Himself to the Father to be crucified upon a cross and take up His rightful place as the leader of the Church. Let us follow Christ’s leadership to be a healthy church for His glory and our good.
Christ Our Hope in Life and Death, The Creed (This I Believe), Give Us Clean Hands, The Church’s One Foundation, Doxology