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110925 servant leaders

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A sermon on elders from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 presented September 25, 2011, at Palm Desert Church of Christ, by Dale Wells.

A sermon on elders from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 presented September 25, 2011, at Palm Desert Church of Christ, by Dale Wells.

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  • Bishop, overseer, episcopate, presbyter, elder…all come from two Greek words presbuteros and episcopos. Used virtually interchangeably in NT to designate what this church refers to as elders. Historically, Jesus appoints the Apostles and the Apostles appoint elders. In Acts 15 we see that the elders are already moving into a place of prominent leadership, Paul establishes elders at the churches he plants (Acts 14:23) and orders Titus to do likewise (Titus 1:5). These men were placed to govern & guard the church. Plurality in every church, not a delegate or a singular leader but multiple leaders for every church. Why? Because these men were godly and they knew God’s will, but as importantly they knew their church and community. So, they were the best equipped to handle problems in the church God’s way.
  • We live in a democracy, but we do not worship inside of one. The church has never been open for electioneering or campaigning.In OT God spoke directly through the priest or the prophet.In NT God is able to speak through all of us through the Holy Spirit in the name of Christ. To this extent there is a much greater sharing of leadership. But, it’s still about God. What is God calling us to? Who is God calling to certain purposes? When we deliberate or vote, we’re not trying to select our best choice, but God’s.*** God’s call is seen in our gifts.
  • Pastors and teachers in v. 11 refers to one group of people, not two. It is teaching pastors, or teaching elders.The purpose of leadership in the church is to help us grow, keep us on track, and equip and support us as we each use our gifts to the glory of God.
  • *** God’s call is seen in our passion
  • Some people have these gifts and passion for leadership and with those gifts they have diverse and complimentary gifts. In our eldership the gifts are diverse which makes for a very good team.
  • We are not to decide who is an elder, but rather discern who is already being called an elder by God. *** Congregational selection affirms God’s call
  • Acts 1 describes the call of Matthias who replaces Judas and this serves as an example of the church affirming God’s call
  • Another example is the sending of Paul and Barnabas Acts 13:1-3.
  • When we ordain elders we officially recognize them as leaders, like a wedding officially blesses a union. This is why Timothy was told to be careful in his ordaining of elders, 1 Timothy 5:22. What is this “laying on of hands”? Anger? Excitement? Affection? No, rather endorsement.*** HCSB has it right: Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder.We may be called by God, but we are called to a church. So, you could be called by God – just not here. That’s why the church must affirm the call.
  • Elders lead by example*** Elders are not perfect, you might have already known that. They are imperfect men, imperfect examples and models. Although we would consider them to be examples and models for us. What are they modeling? What does it take to be an elder? We have two lists: 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
  • *** Titus’ list includes “self-control,” “a firm grasp of the word,” & “devout,” while Timothy’s doesn’t. Does this mean Timothy’s elders didn’t need self-control, firm grasp of word, or devotion? *** Timothy’s list includes “sensible,” and “respectable,” while Titus’ list doesn’t. Does this mean Titus’ elders didn’t need to be respectable & sensible? Lists not exhaustive, nor definitive. Timothy (Ephesus) & Titus (Crete) didn’t compare lists, so we shouldn’t combine them into a checklist.They outline for us the kinds of men that God is calling into leadership. They are a caricature, not a portrait.Seeing the difference between the lists leads me to believe that elder selection to some extent depends on the individual church, not their preferences, but their needs and God’s preferences. These lists serve as our touchstone to ensure our selections are within the will of God. Churches might have additional criteria. For instance we believe God has called us to a specific mission, spiritual & numerical growth of church in PD & outreach to the CV, so we believe he will send us leaders who believe in that mission.
  • From an article by Matt Proctor in the Christian Standard 8/5/07Everything rises and falls with leadership. When leadership is strong, an organization flourishes; when weak falters.John Maxwell calls this the “law of the lid”: “Leadership ability is always the lid on organizational effectiveness.” If your leadership rates a 9, your team can become an 8. But if your leadership is only a 4, the team’s effectiveness will never be greater than a 3. When choosing leaders, stakes are high.Background of 1 Timothy 3. The church at Ephesus was a mess—arguing over foolish matters, neglecting the needy among them, too impressed with wealth, & infiltrated by false teaching. If the congregation in Ephesus was going to reach its full redemptive potential—to win as many as possible for Christ—they would need their very best men leading the way. So Paul writes to the young minister Timothy with a description of the kind of men who can lead that church back to God’s agenda.A fresh look at 1 Timothy 3:1-7.10 questions a congregation could ask of potential elders.
  • Is this man respected in the community? Above reproach, literally “not able to be held.” If charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn’t even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid. He’s Teflon, not Velcro. His integrity is such that accusations just won’t stick.In verse 7 Paul bookends this list with another call for a good reputation with outsiders. Why this emphasis on how well others think of a man? Simply this: the reputation of Christ is tied to that of the church, and the reputation of the church is tied to that of its leaders. Lynn Anderson tells of a church visitor who remarked, “So Jake is a leader in your church? Well, if Jake is an example of what Jesus does to people, you can color me Buddhist.”An elder with a tarnished reputation hinders the mission of the church. We need leaders who are a compelling commercial for Christ.
  • Is this man committed to his wife? A husband of but one wife literally reads “a one-woman man.” It describes a man completely devoted to his wife not only in body, but also in mind and heart. Why is this important? A strong marriage helps protect an elder from moral failure, provides needed support when he faces draining church challenges, and offers a powerful example to younger believers (1 Peter 5:3).On Father’s Day, the Sunday school teacher was helping her class of 5-year-olds make homemade cards. “Why don’t you draw a picture of something your father likes?” she suggested. “Maybe golf balls or a fishing pole or a pet.”Little Gus raised his hand, “May I draw a picture of my mom? My dad sure likes her a lot!” You’re looking for an elder with a marriage like Gus’ dad.Not about past history, but about present character. Experience changes people, sometimes for the better. I’m better for having gone through divorce; don’t even like the man I was before.
  • Has this man shown wisdom in decision-making? Temperate means “clear-headed,” and self-controlled could actually be translated “prudent or thoughtful.” Picture a man who has his head on straight. Why? Because an elder must often think his way through thorny relational, financial, and doctrinal questions—all of which can have eternal consequences. (Perhaps this is why spiritual leaders are called “elders,” suggesting a certain amount of life experience. Wisdom doesn’t always come with age, but it rarely comes without it.)Look for a man mature enough to avoid shoot-from-hip, impulsive, or careless decisions. Dr. Carroll Osburn, who grew up in the rural South, says “an elder in the Black River bottoms of Arkansas would not likely command much respect unless he owned high-class coon dogs. If a man didn’t have enough sense to know good dogs, how could he possibly have enough sense to lead a church?”Whether you call it common sense, horse sense, or “coon dog sense,” you want your spiritual leaders to demonstrate wise decision-making.
  • Has this man shown the ability to keep his temper in check? Paul describes an elder as a man who is not violent, but gentle and not quarrelsome. Church leaders will face volatile situations in which a soft word will turn away anger, but a harsh word will stir up wrath (Proverbs 15:1). If a man is known to have either an explosive anger (“losing it”) or a slow, simmering anger (“carrying a grudge”), the church will suffer.I’ve seen too many churches debate one man’s eligibility for elder because of a past divorce, or the present condition of his children, without ever discussing another candidate’s habitual anger pattern through the years. When conflict and criticism arise, the man who will make a good elder will have a tough skin, a tender heart, a short memory, and a long fuse.
  • Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others? When we hear hospitable, we picture inviting someone over for an evening of dinner and conversation. In ANE, where inns were notoriously filthy and even dangerous, the word pictured someone opening his home for guests to stay days or even weeks on end. Hospitality involved sacrifice and cost a great deal in time, space, money and effort. In other words, Paul’s question is: will this man think of others before himself?After all, an elder is to shepherd the flock of God, and if you haven’t been around sheep, I can tell you these frustrating animals need constant care. Their problems always seem to come at inconvenient times. Plus, they smell baaaaad. In other words, sheep require unconditional love.Does this sound familiar? Having worked in churches for decades, I know that church folk need constant attention. I know their crises rarely come at convenient times. (I’ve received the 2 am phone call from a church member about domestic problems. Dean Wiseman would have coffee ready and be back in the field at sunup.) A good elder recognizes, however, that these frustrating folk are loved by God and are “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).That’s why good elders “smell like sheep”—they’re out among the flock, giving them the care God wants. That kind of selfless love makes for a good leader.
  • Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others? An elder must be able to teach. Why? Biblically, the primary strategy for personal and corporate transformation is not excellent programming or even quality relationships, but rather the patient teaching of Scripture (2 Timothy 4:2).Is Paul telling Timothy to look for effective public speakers? Not necessarily. While delivery matters, the first requirement of a good teacher is not presentation skills, but mastery of content. Has this man given himself to study of Scripture and to filling himself with the Word of God?Some of the finest elders I’ve known were relatively uneducated farmers who were soaked in Scripture. When they spoke, you could tell they had been with Jesus.You’re not simply looking for a man who knows how to say something, but rather a man who has something to say—something from God.
  • Has this man established wise personal habits? The word respectable pictures a man who is self-disciplined and orderly in his behavior. It describes the ancient church father who once prayed, “Father, help me be master of my self that I may be servant of others.” To serve the church, an elder certainly must not be given to drunkenness, but he must also avoid other habits that can damage reputation and distract focus—workaholism, gambling, smoking, overeating, or even watching too much television.Ask of a potential leader: Do his habits reveal a man who is able to supervise his own life well? Self-control is not only the fruit of the Spirit, but also the mark of a good elder.
  • Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship? Phrased differently, he is not a lover of money. Phrased positively, he is a lover of God with his money. Paul is describing a leader whose life will be marked by generosity and simple contentment. (See 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.)Why? A man who lives under the love of money might let in the door of his life such sins as embezzling, extravagance, or even hoarding, and I’ve seen spiritual leaders who then let these sins in the door of the church. On the other hand, a man who lives under the love of God will steward his own money and the church’s finances with God’s glory and the church’s mission always in mind.
  • Does this man have a track record of discipling others? Has this man shown the ability to lead others to greater maturity in Christ? To answer that question, look at his family first. When Paul says an elder must manage his own family well, he means a man’s family is his first little congregation, and “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). But if three of his four children have no use for the church, what does this say of his spiritual leadership?By the way, does this mean a man without a family cannot serve as an elder? I’ve known churches that passed by some great spiritual leaders because they & their wives couldn’t have children. I’ve known some of those, like Leveritt Stone, at Columbus Avenue in Waco, who had been like a father to so many students from Baylor University that they all regarded him as their spiritual fatherSpiritually, Leveritt was the father of a multitude. We’re looking for a man who’s got a track record of leading people closer to Jesus.
  • Has this man been a Christian long enough to maintain humility? Paul says he must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited. The chief occupational hazard of spiritual leadership is pride, and too much visibility too soon in a man’s Christian pilgrimage can inflate his ego.Howard Hendricks says that man is the only animal that, when given a pat on the back, experiences a swelling of the head. You’re looking for a man who won’t believe his own church newsletter press clippings and instead has the humility that comes when you’ve walked a ways with Jesus.Neil Lightfoot is a man like that. A scholar of the first order, with books and articles that have been published and studied far beyond our fellowship. But I don’t recall ever meeting a man who is more humble and down to earth than he.That’s the kind of leader we’re looking for.
  • “The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.” If it’s true that everything rises and falls with leadership, then as we select our elders, we’ll want to take a close look again at this picture of a spiritual leader in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The work of the church is too critical, the stakes are too high, the consequences are too eternal for a congregation to choose its leaders hastily (1 Timothy 5:22). Choose poorly, and the church will miss opportunities to build the kingdom.But if leaders are chosen wisely, the church will flourish. And when the church flourishes, the gospel is preached, the lost are found, souls are saved, sin is confronted, children are taught, marriages are mended, addictions are broken, the hungry are fed, the grieving are comforted, the lonely are embraced, the wounded are healed, the community is transformed, and the nations are reached with the good news of Christ.When the leaders are at their best, the church will be at its best, and when the church is at its best, it is breathtaking to behold. Look out world!
  • With all that said, I cannot close without a final reminder. Remember: this picture Paul provides in 1 Timothy 3 is a sketch, not a snapshot. As we search for leaders, we’re looking for a great resemblance, but we may not find an exact likeness.Keep in mind that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Look for excellence in character, but apply these standards with grace. We can (and should) find men who have learned to sin less, but we will never find men who are sinless.
  • At the end of the day, the good news is this: everything rises and falls with one Leader, and while we may fail, he never does.Jesus was the perfect model of a servant leader. Each of us should aspire to serve, and if we serve well, God may well call some among us to be servant leaders.The best advice I could give to any who aspire to lead is the advice Paul gave to all Christians:1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV84 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

110925 servant leaders 110925 servant leaders Presentation Transcript

  • Elders are discerned not decided
    God’s call is seen in our gifts
    God’s call is seen in our passion
    Congregational selection affirms God’s call
  • Ephesians 4:7-16
    But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. … (11) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:7-16
    Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
  • Elders are discerned not decided
    God’s call is seen in our gifts
    God’s call is seen in our passion
    Congregational selection affirms God’s call
  • Jeremiah 20:9
    But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
  • Elders are discerned not decided
    God’s call is seen in our gifts
    God’s call is seen in our passion
    Congregational selection affirms God’s call
  • Acts 1:21-26
    Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.
  • Acts 1:21-26
    Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
  • Acts 13:1-3
    In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
  • 1 Timothy 5:22
    NIV84 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands …
    HCSB Don't be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder ...
  • Elders Lead by Example
    Imperfect men, models & examples
    A guide to selecting elders
    A sketch, not a snapshot
  • Differences between two lists
    1 Timothy 3:1-7
    Titus 1:5-9
    Sensible
    Respectable
    Self-control
    A firm grasp of the word
    Devout
  • Elders Lead by Example
    Imperfect men, models & examples
    A guide to selecting elders
    A sketch, not a snapshot
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • A Guide to Selecting Elders
    Respected in the community?
    Committed to his wife?
    Wisdom in decision-making?
    Keep his temper in check? 
    Willing to be inconvenienced for others?
    Capable of teaching Scripture to others?
    Wise personal habits?
    Strong sense of stewardship?
    Track record of discipling? 
    Christian long enough to maintain humility?
  • Elders Lead by Example
    Imperfect men, models & examples
    A guide to selecting elders
    A sketch, not a snapshot
  • Elders Lead by Example
    Imperfect men, models & examples
    A guide to selecting elders
    A sketch, not a snapshot
  • Follow Jesus’ example