Jump Start # 2121
1 Timothy 3:1 “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”
Leadership in the church. Few things are more important. Far too many congregations are drifting with no one at the helm. Things that ought to be done, don’t get done. It’s just the basics and the necessities of surviving, such as paying the bills, finding a preacher and loading him up with keeping the place going, that is accomplished.
Our verse today seems to the giant hurdle that trips up so many today. If any man aspires, or desires, as other translations word it, is the problem. It’s a two-sided problem.
First, many do not want to be overseers. The overseer, bishop, or elder are different expressions for the same office of leading. These are not different levels of organization. He is spiritually experienced, thus an elder. His work is overseeing the church or flock. Thus, he is an overseer or bishop. Then there is the word, shepherd or pastor. He cares for the flock. His interests are in the well being of each member of the church.
These differing words define the work that is to be done. And, herein lies one of the problems in finding men to step up. It is a work. Our verse today describes it as a “fine work.”
Some just don’t want to do it. They work all day and they want to come home and stay home. And, by in large, they should. If a person doesn’t see the enormous good that comes from leading the people of God, then he may lean toward the selfish side of things. Sure it’s a work. Sure it takes time. Sure it gets messy. But consider David leading the people of God. Consider the apostles working with the people of God. What greater thing can one do with his abilities than to be entrusted in helping people spiritually. And, we need help.
There are those who need to be encouraged. Some are so up and down spiritually, one never knows from week to week if they will even show up at the church house. They need to be strengthened and taught. Some are upset and discouraged. Their feelings have been hurt. Things haven’t gone as they expected in their life. They need to be calmed, reassured and encouraged. Some are sitting on the sidelines of life, like at a parade, just watching everything go by. They need a gentle kick in the pants to get them up and engaged in the kingdom.
Sure there are headaches that come with leading. Every leader, whether in schools, sports, politics or in the kingdom of God, faces critics who think things should have been done differently. They get complaints from back-seat drivers who would never themselves take the effort to lead, but certainly have no trouble in pointing out every fault or disagreement that they have. There are heartaches that come with leading when some simply will not follow. Spiritually it leads to eternal death if they do not turn their lives around. There are hours of prayers and countless one on one discussions that the church never knows about. There are so many powerful things that they do to not just keep the place running smoothly, but to keep it on course with God and to point it in a direction that the future looks strong and bright.
And, some don’t want any part of that. They want a church that is growing, strong, and friendly but they don’t want to be part of shaping that. They want to jump in, enjoy the ride, and then jump out when it has taken them as far as they wanted to go. They are like the hitch-hiker of long ago. He adds nothing to the ride.
Across this country, there are so many who could and should step up to leadership in the kingdom but they will not. It may be that they have witnessed bad experiences with shepherds in the past. It may be that some abused this position and never fully understood that they are leading the people of God, not running a corporation. The old model of leading the church took the form of management in a corporation, where the elders looked more like CEO’s than shepherds and deacons were the hands on managers carrying out the orders of the “bosses.” There was little contact with the sheep and little knowledge of what was going on. In this old model, the work was taking care of the church building and running a budget. Big decisions came down to who to hold next year’s Gospel meetings. The members were left dying right in the pew and these leaders never realized it. As long as there wasn’t any major battles going on among the members, they felt that their work was done.
Today, many are seeing that the business model is not the Biblical model. Shepherds are to be among the sheep and their role is not budgets, buildings and bank accounts, but rather, helping each individual member become a success spiritually. Many have never seen this form of leadership. They have never experienced it done right.
Another reason some may not desire the work is because they have never developed themselves. We’ve ignored the consequences of the one talent man in Matthew 25 who buried his talent in the ground. He was proud to show the master that he still had what was given to him. He didn’t lose it. He didn’t waste it. But, he never used it. It was buried. We use our talents to lead in sports as we coach our kids. We lead in the community as we volunteer for different projects. But the greatest area of life, spiritually, we fail to see the value, importance and the need. Have we buried our talents?
Congregations need to develop men to become leaders. It begins at the wedding. Men are to lead their families. This has been a colossal failure in too many homes. Men work. Men come home. But the woman leads the family. The woman decides what will be done and the man has become the mute puppet who goes along. Society has pushed women to the forefront so much that men have become silent in the home. This is not as God arranged things. Men are to lead. The family is his own little flock. It is his job, his example and his role to get that family to Heaven. He will shepherd that family, in a small way, just like elders shepherd the church. It’s not paying the bills and loading the car for vacation. It’s strengthening your children, caring for your wife spiritually. It’s conversations and connections to the word of God. This is where leadership begins. From this, it’s a natural step to expand what a man has already done, to now lead the people of God. But before us are too many who have never lead at home. They have no clue as to what to do. They have had others tell them what to do. They don’t know how to lead and they don’t know where to begin.
Classes, sermons and special men studies on leadership ought to be offered yearly at the congregation. How else are men going to desire the work if they do not understand what the work is. You see a sign in a store window, “Help Wanted.” The first question is, “What kind of help?”
Aspire…desire…want to. Do you want to see the church do well? Do you want to see the church being strong and powerful for your children someday? Do you want the church to do what is right? Why don’t you want to help with that? Why don’t you want be a part of that? Not all can serve as overseers. There are some strict requirements. They follow our verse. But the spiritual desire ought to be running strong within every Christian. The desire to lead people to Christ. The desire to do what I can to help out. The desire to work with the Lord among His people. Could anything be better than that?
Tomorrow, we will take a look at the other side of this. Some want to serve because they want power.