Chapter 3 is about the standards of being a leader in the church. Not only for Timothy, but any leaders, 1-7 seems to be more about pastors and then 8-13 “deacons” or other leaders, but there is a tremendous amount of overlap. This scripture sets out a standard, a vision of what we are to seek to be. We are called in the Christian life to become more and more like Christ, in our character, walk the talk of our faith. Almost all of these standards are for anyone, not pastors alone. E.g. “not quarrelsome” is a standard that will enrich any person’s life. Christians must have high standards, high goals, because it is a high calling: 1 Timothy 3:1 says of the Christian leader that it is a noble task. Most of this sermon I am going to talk in general terms about being a Christian leader, but a few words about the calling of being a pastor.
Is anyone here feel that God is calling them to be a pastor? Here is my advice, go ahead and run away from those thoughts //(like Jonah). If the Lord will not let you run away, but keeps you captive to an inner calling, then the day must come when you tell others. The calling on your life comes from two directions: within and without. Is God speaking to your heart, then when the day comes to tell others, that is when the affirmation of the Christian Community starts to become a factor. 1 Tim. 3:1 is the inner calling. 1 Tim. 3:2-7 is a set of guidelines for the church to measure the leader, the affirmation from outside. There is a young man at George Fox U. by the name of Randy. He is living out verse number 1 as he is thinking that God is calling him to the pastoral ministry. Next Summer, if it works out, he may end up here. Our job will be to sift him through verse 2 -7. If Randy comes and fights with everyone at every turn and has a taste for luxurious living, we will not give our blessings. Our task is to watch him, to bless him, to let him know what we think. Jack Mumford is among us, our job is to sift Jack’s life through v. 2-7…. Did I say Carl? Did I mention Jim Glass? He’s the head elder. I bet there are going to be a whole lot more people. High standards of pastors, not perfection, 1 Tim. 3:2 uses the phrase “above reproach.” I think that means something like a high degree of integrity. Keep moving and growing in the direction of becoming more like Christ. High expectations are not just for pastors, but all leaders. I promise that I won’t expect anything from you that I don’t expect from myself. Walk the talk, that’s what creates peace in the church, in your life, that’s the what allows you to have a high vision for others. By the way, the Sumas community may not have the list in front of them, but the community is sifting me (and you) through this list in v. 2-7, too.
Christians who walk the talk will make the biggest impact on their world: be the person you proclaim you want others to become. You could probably slice and dice this list in different ways, but it’s worthwhile to take a quick look at the standards…
1. Faithfulness in marriage (2) Jesus was not married, Paul was not married, so this cannot mean a leader must be married or that marriage is part of the highest calling. Many people live a full life and never marry. Clearly it means for those that are married, a good marriage that blesses each other. Marriage is a private relationship, but marriages also make an impact on others. In practical terms, if a person is having difficulties in their marriage, frankly, that needs to be the focus and to try and be a leader is not fair to anyone….
2. self-mastery temperate, self-controlled, respectable (2) each of these three words can be summarized as a mastery over self. Temperate: reasonable, moderate, sober. A self discipline. All kinds of personalities, some people are night owls and others early risers, but when it comes time to teach or lead, as long as the person knows themselves and is prepared. Some people have an image of pastors that they are supposed to look a certain way or have a certain personality. I have a friend, Brad Rigney, years ago when he started in Santa Cruz, the people of the church could hardly believe it when he changed the oil in his car! If you cannot lead yourself, how can you possibly expect to lead others. Get yourself under control.
3. hospitality (2). “a love for strangers.” In order to be a leader you have to like people and welcome them. I like people. Can I pat myself on the back? Last Monday I was with a family in Bellingham to prepare for a funeral. I was there perhaps 1 ½ hours. For at least half of the time, the grown children screamed and yelled at each other, and I was the referee, and I loved it. I thought to myself, what a great honor God has given me to try and be a calming influence in an incredibly difficult time with years of tension coming to a head. I like people. Sometime this week I am going to post on Facebook, I have the best job in the world. Why? Because I hear stories of real people. They let me in their home. Their life.
4. teaching ability (2). This is the only specific ability for pastors in this list. This is not a moral quality, but a gift of God. Just a reminder that there are different leadership positions, and for pastors and other positions there are some practical gifts needed.
5. drinking habits (3) one commentator noted the positioning of teaching and not being drunk right next to each other, because its hard to teach and be drunk at the same time. I hope nobody is disappointed if I decline to get in the debate of whether an occasional social drink is acceptable. But this I know. Alcohol is such a problem in so many families and people that I totally abstain out of respect, and because so many people have had their lives compromised, as a church we will NEVER have alcohol at church gatherings, or allow alcohol in this building. Call me prudish if you want, but it’s a hedge I put up, it’s a discipline so that there are no traps. If you were to see me order a beer across the street, I could argue with you and convince you it is allowed because the Bible says “take a little wine for your stomaches sake” and “don’t get drunk,” but I will not order a beer. And I am not telling other leaders what to do! Sorry. I want to be a safe person for those who can no longer drink or should no longer drink, a completely sober person at all times.
6 temper (3). Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome. Gentlesness is a fruit of the spirit, as was self-control. Clearly a life quality meant for all, but especially those who aspire to be leaders. If a person has a problem with getting angry way too much, they can learn. I don’t accept people saying they don’t have control. Gentleness is a learned discipline. I stay out of quarrels. The concept that has helped me the most is that of triangling. Don’t triangle! You want to be a leader? Don’t triangle. If somebody comes to me with a problem about somebody else, I listen and then depending on the situation I try to direct them to solving the problem. I don’t play detective and go back and forth. Sometimes I slip up and talk to somebody else about a third person, but what I am continuously learning to do is to stay out of quarrels as much as possible.
7. attitude towards money. Later Paul says to Timothy Money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). “not a lover of money.” Keeping money in a healthy perspective. Here is a family story that has helped me. My great-grandmother was a pastor, I believe it was when she was called to the Crouseville, Maine A.C. Church. Before she moved the great depression hit. Before she moved, the church called her and said, we are sorry Mrs. Davis, but we have no money to pay you, don’t come. She said, “how are you going to eat.” They answered, “well, we have our farms with chickens and eggs and other things. She said, “Then pay me with chickens and eggs.” Do not be a lover of money.
8. domestic discipline, “manage his own family well” (4-5). The world needs healthy examples. I’m not going to talk about my own family, we are what we are. I like what Joe Tom Tate, pastor of the Bellingham A.C. Church said back in the 50’s, “I wouldn’t trade the whole world for my children, but I wouldn’t give you 10¢ for three more just like them.” We all know good parents can produce rotten kids and kids can become good overcoming rotten parents. No person should be a pastor or leader if the needs are so great at home that being a pastor or leader detracts from their home-life.
9. spiritual maturity. Leaders need to have a certain level of maturity. Often that comes with age. In general in order to be a leader in this church we ask for a certain level of involvement, but we don’t have any hard and fast rules. Common sense.
10. outside reputation, do other see you walk the talk? Christians are watched. “If I were to ever become a Christian” I was told by a man in the community, “It would be because of your father. That man walked his talk.” People are smart. They know if we are being superficial.
Our Christian walk must come out of a pure desire to serve and know Christ. People know the difference. They are watching what we do more than what we say. May our desire be to follow Christ and serve him. High expectations. High calling. Holding ourselves to high standards. Amen.