1 Timothy 3

“This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.'” – 1 Timothy 3:1 (NLT)

Church leadership. So many things I want to say and could say on this topic. But I think that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says it so well in this letter to Timothy. Being a leader in the church is such an honor. But we’ve gotten it twisted in our culture when it comes to the requirements and the standard of holding a leadership position. We have slacked. Let the standard fall way too low. And it really shows.

In the very next verse, Paul tells Timothy, “So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.” (verse 2)

Then in verses 6 and 7, “A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”

Did you catch that? He must have a good reputation with people outside of the church. Wait, what?! Talk about a Biblical standard that has been completely overlooked. Your life as a Christian in general should reflect this, but even more so a leader in the church is to lead a life that creates a good reputation with all people. This meaning abiding by the truth of the Gospel at all times. In secret. In public. In church. At work. EVERYWHERE.

Now let’s also talk about verse 6. A new believer must not be a leader in the church. How many times have we seen the fallout from someone being elevated to a high position too quickly? Even Paul, a man who was a top Pharisee, who knew the Scriptures like the back of his hand, even he spent 3 years in training and submission to the Apostles’ teaching before he himself started to teach and preach.

I think about Kanye West in light of this verse. The man came out as a proclaiming believer in Christ a few years ago. What happened? Well, because he already held a public spotlight, he was quickly elevated to a high position among believers. All under the excuse of, “Well he is able to reach people that others might never gain access to.” That in and of itself is not bad. But the problem is that Kayne West had no idea what he was doing. He had no teaching. He had no actual knowledge of Christ that he was able to teach to others.

And what happened? Well long story short, his “conversion” became a laughingstock when he began to show the fruit of his life. He fell into the devil’s trap.

This is what happens when we create a culture of celebrity Christianity. People who have no business being leaders are made leaders. And now we reap the results of what was sown.

We must get back to holding the standard of requirement. We must raise the bar back to where it is supposed to be. As Paul says in verse 10, “Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons.”

This examination applies to every aspect of leadership. If a person does not pass the test, they must not be allowed to enter leadership at that time. They must be trained and equipped before they can lead and teach. Imagine the amount of fallout and falling away that we could have avoided if we had only stuck to this standard.

I know this seems harsh, but the time for saying things softly is done. Speak truth in love, yes, but love isn’t always soft-toned. There is a reason why the Word is referred to as a double-edged sword. It is supposed to cut.

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