We closed out chapter two with Paul saying, “I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.”
While learning about faith and truth is vital, something else is just as essential, and that is the need to pray.
Paul puts it like this, “in every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” You can find this in 1 Timothy 2:7-8 NLT.
Controversy is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as dispute; debate; agitation of contrary opinions.
The NASB uses the term dissension instead of controversy. If you look up the Strong’s concordance for dissension, you get the word dialogismos, which means discussion, debate, and reasoning.
The logical assumption on my part would be to say that this is where we get our word dialogue. Dialogue, of course, implies that the parties involved are having a meaningful conversation. Welcome to my world, where, in a household of those who claim to be “Christians,” there is non-stop dissension and agitation due to contrary opinions concerning the mandates put on us by our California Governor, and faith. It is painful to watch, as faith means nothing.
By the way, my home has become a model of the church today, as with minor exceptions, the church lives in fear, and pastors, preach nothing to stimulate faith and boldness.
Paul opens chapter three, talking about those that aspire to be church leaders. The assumption here would-be pastors, but it can cover a variety of ministerial titles.
I wonder what Paul would think of us today.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 NLT “This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” (2) 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. (3) He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. (4) He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. (5) For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? (6) A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. (7) Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”
- “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.”
If it is your goal, or you are shooting for the role of being a church leader, you do well. That is if your motives are correct.
What do I mean by that?
I have seen many come to the mega-churches because that is where the money is. Maybe their motives were pure, and they truly wanted to shepherd people, but you find out quickly that shepherding is often complicated and uncomfortable. You also find out that the bigger the church, the more exhaustively elaborate the organizational system. Timothy found out about people and their eccentricities, because he was asked by Paul to put several of these unruly sheep in their place, and, if necessary, kick them out of the congregation.
If my mother had raised Timothy, he would have found that difficult to do.
The context of 1 Timothy chapter three has everything to do with someone seeking to be the shepherd of a church body.
Verses 2-7 cover the qualifications.
Paul tells us that if any man aims to be the overseer or pastor, it is a fine work he desires to do.
An overseer, then, must be:
- A man whose life is above reproach.
Here we are in a Presidential election year, and it doesn’t matter what side you are supporting, as your candidate will have their skeletons exposed. Of course, they will counter with dirt against the opposition and do their best to cloud the issue against them.
What’s the point here?
Everyone has skeletons in their closet. Are you willing to take the heat for those skeletons? Maybe the best approach is to air out the laundry at the beginning, and then there will be no secrets that you have to dodge later on.
The Greek word translated as a reproach is anepílēptos and implies one who has nothing which an adversary could seize upon with which to base a charge. (WSD)
Why does this make me think of a church like Victory Outreach, where some of the Pastors will, in their testimonies, tell you that they murdered someone. It seems then, as if this reproach would be more of an active lifestyle thing, but not necessarily.
- He must be faithful to his wife.
Sadly, most of us know of some pastor who has had an affair with their secretary or someone else.
- He must exercise self-control.
Without some parameters, this could apply to anything, some being nowhere near as destructive as the others. The Word Study Dictionary states: “to be sober. Sober, temperate, self-controlled, especially in respect to wine.” This does not give you any more crazed freedom with whiskey or other libations.
Not being an alcoholic, I don’t understand the dynamics of alcoholism. You see, I put myself in recovery because I was getting far too comfortable, allowing rage to make my decisions for me. You might think I would understand the alcoholic better, simply because I attended recovery and led the anger group. But rage, for me, was a choice. With an alcoholic, I am not so sure there is a choice as it is an addiction.
If you did not check the background on this, new, potential pastor, then their propensity for excess might get past you and explode in all your faces.
- Live wisely, and have a good reputation.
The NLT has no direct reference to word origins in the Greek, and so I have to try to make an accurate comparison with something that does, like the NASB, or KJV. The words the NLT gives are, live wisely, and have a good reputation. These are useful words for the moment, but several of these words overlap in their definitions and repeat a theme. The KJV uses terminology such as be vigilant, sober, and of good behavior. The Greek words used to make this sentence are nēphálios, sṓphrōn, and kósmios.
If we look at kósmios in The Word Study Dictionary, we get this, “Plato presents someone who is kósmios, much like the citizen who quietly fulfills the duties which are incumbent on him and is not disorderly.”
Plato associates such a person, as Paul does, with sṓphrōn, where he conveys the idea of a sensible, self-controlled person who voluntarily places limitations on their freedom.
Immediately I can tell you that some will lose their minds simply because Plato, the philosopher, is being referenced. There is no denying that usage, but if good, Godly sense shines through, then the goal is accomplished, and Paul calls for this very thing.
The end of this sentence above is quite telling and might severely impact those who choose to lead man-cave groups that have little to no restraints.
- He must enjoy having guests in his home.
Well, at least not in its present condition. The wife and I have talked about this very thing many times.
- He must be able to teach.
Keep in mind that Paul already went through a long oration about how women are NOT to be Pastors. Honestly, I am not sure about the whys, but many hold to this standard. There is no doubt in my mind that there are women who can teach, and Beth Moore comes to mind as she did a teaching on Daniel that opened my eyes. However, such a harsh rejection is one reason I struggle with Pastor John MacArthur, as he rudely told her to go back home.
If you have sat under a Pastor who clearly could not hold an audience, you can understand what Paul is talking about.
- He must not be, as the NASB states, addicted to wine, or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.
Yes, I know, this is a lot to cover in one breath, but, in many ways, we had already touched on this, when we covered self-control, because of the word pároinos. “The word-picture is that of an individual who always has a bottle (or wineskin) on the table and so signifies addiction.”
Moving beyond the alcohol addiction, what about this idea of being gentle. The Greek translates to equitable, fair, gentle.
Equitable, according to Webster’s means: Equal in regard to the rights of persons; distributing equal justice; giving each his due.
- “He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.”
I guess I just got lucky. When I had a family, I married into it, and then added two of my own. The step kids were well mannered and respectful. I never asked or demanded that they call me dad, but they did, and they complied when I called them. I suppose a lot of the respect I experienced came from their mother, who would back me up. The step kids parted from my fellowship as the price of divorce, but my girls also grew up without me, apparently having their choices forced on them.
As for discipline, I did not count to whatever stupid number some people ascribe to before I asserted my will on them, as their count was included in the words, “I need you over here.” I managed and coached the ball teams for both the step-son and the step-daughter, and as far as I was concerned, they were my kids. My daughters, without me in their lives, have shown me no respect. I am not sure the circumstances reflect a fair assessment of my ability to run a household.
I have only known one pastor who held the respect of his daughter, and it fair to say, he only had one child. All the others had children that were out of control. One pastor had to put his boy in a military academy in the hopes of straightening him out. I am not sure how that worked out; most I know that did that same thing, got back a child that was now rigidly antagonistic toward their father.
Even worse, the passage ends like this, “For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” It seems like a logical assumption, doesn’t it?
- “A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.”
Here’s the logic. New believers may have enthusiasm, but do they have an understanding of the Holy Spirit? Probably not; it is not impossible, but not probable. The wisdom of the Lord and how to use it, come over time, with practice.
A new believer, thinking they know everything, can and will become proud and irritating. I speak from experience as this is what happened to me when I was in the faith movement.
- “Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”
This is not a command; however, this is a method of judging whether the man is what he says he is. You go to the references, those who know him, and ask some probing questions, as you try to find out what kind of character this person has. If the community feels like he is tense and irritable, then this is a trait that you are likely to experience.
The pastor of the church that I was recently attending, in his introductory message, informed us that he was a recovering pharisee. Most in the church that morning had no clue what that meant. To me, it said that he still had the potential to be another Saul, hopefully stopping short of having people stoned. He also told us that his dream for the church was to have it filled with forty-year-old couples. Considering that the church body’s average age was around 60, that should have made those of us that are older speculate about what our potential we would continue to have there.
Note how this sentence “people outside the church must speak well of him,” in effect, it says that if the people don’t speak well of him, he will be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.
To fall is the Greek word empiptō, which means to be entrapped by the community.
In other words, these people, having the dirt on this guy, may be able to destroy any good work he could do.
What’s my take away?
Don’t hide any skeletons in your closet.
Perhaps, the knowledge of information that could destroy your ministry should cause you to step away from potentially being the pastor.
Maybe an alternate method of dealing with this is to keep your closet clean.
Remember, our secrets become our prison cells.