Prayer and fasting 21 days – 1 Tim 3
By Ps Simon Smailus
Paul continually emphasises in this letter the importance of conduct. We are told by some not to judge a book by its cover, but Jesus is clear that our actions are an indicator of what lies in our hearts. It’s time to look carefully at our conduct. I am referring to our conduct as believers, not those outside of Christ. Our behaviour must be consistent in all things. There is no point in being generous in church and mean in business. There should be no division in how we behave.
Lord, work in my heart so that I can live with integrity, being the same in every context and becoming the sort of person you can use to bless others.
Paul specifically speaks to leadership in this chapter. He encourages those who desire to be leaders in Christ’s church that this is a great work to desire to serve in. There is, however, a high expectation of the kind of behaviour that is acceptable. Leadership in the church requires the highest of conduct, not just for the leader, but also for their spouse as well. This is because marriage makes the two one and how we live at home really matters to God. Paul’s guidance covers a broad spectrum and can be broken down into these three areas:
2. Management skills or stewarding small things well
Leaders must not be addicted to anything. Addictions have the habit of usurping Christ’s position of authority in the leader and ultimately they end up serving their addiction and not Christ. This may seemobvious, but it is surprising how many leaders fail. There is also a growing decadence in society which is becoming more like the culture in the Roman empire in Paul’s day. Some behaviours are accepted in the world around us that were unacceptable only thirty years ago. These things can influence the church and we must be vigilant. So leaders must be wise and not operate in isolation. They must have good accountability and support. It is best for every Christian to build this into their life.
The second area Paul mentions is management. Leaders must manage their own homes well. This illustration is very simple. If a leader cannot manage his own house, how can he manage God’s house? We often overlook these simple commands of Paul’s. Are you aspiring to church leadership? Good! Then begin to steward the small things well. Ability to pray or speak about the Lord are not the only admission criteria for church leadership.
Church leadership must carry some experience in following Christ. Over time this following of Christ strengthens our dependence on Christ. Someone newly saved may trust their own ability or knowledge and very quickly shipwreck not only themselves, but the area they lead. Humility is of utmost importance and is not a gift but fruit. It does not come instantaneously, but grows over time through choosing to humble ourselves and responding rightly to difficult situations. There is no room in leadership for leaders with their own agenda. Remember a body only has one head and Christ is that head. All other leaders serve Christ in humility, following His example (Phil 2:3-11).
If you think that this does not apply as you are not in leadership or aspiring to leadership, remember we are all called to be a blessing to others. And if we influence anyone we are leading them. These principles are for all people. Addictions will usurp the authority of Christ in all people not just leaders. Managing what we are responsible for well should be a goal for all of us and who can argue with Christ’s humility being an example for all of us to follow?