If we are passionate about the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone as taught by Paul God’s appointed spokesman – because that is what God is passionate about (see previous reflections on 1 Timothy below) then that will be reflected in the leadership of the church.
Three times in 1 Timothy Paul says, “Here is a trustworthy saying.” And each of these sayings are critical to our thinking as followers of Jesus but the one we look at in 1 Timothy 3, our passage for reflection, is perhaps the more surprising one. The first one, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”, and the third one, “we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men” we can resonate with because they focus on Jesus. But the middle one, “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” seems not to be as Jesus-centered as the others.
Why does Paul put this saying in the same trustworthy league as the others? I think it is because God is passionate about the local church! Contrary to all the hype that backs people who love Jesus but hate the church, God has chosen to primarily communicate the life changing good news about the Gospel of salvation as taught by Paul through the frail, failing local church and the leadership of such a local is critical to keep it on the gospel path that it needs to be on.
And the amazing thing is that Paul says that it is great thing if someone sets his heart on being a leader in the local church. Amazing because in this generation we are not only skeptical about leadership but especially church leadership and especially people who go after being in church leadership. As someone said, “We prefer reluctant leaders, pushed forward, while protesting their unworthiness.” But Paul says the opposite and therefore so does God.
The words used to describe the leadership of a local church are that they are overseers and deacons in other words supervisors and servants. And Paul now sets out to tell Timothy and us just what kind of people should be overseers and deacons. And these qualities can apply to all areas of leadership in the local church.
Essentially Paul says an overseer must be able to teach and live the truth. You can read the qualities for yourself.
It is interesting to note however that while today being a visionary is regarded as so important to church leadership it is not mentioned here at all. I think that is because our vision is Jesus’ vision as laid out in Matthew 28 and Acts 1… and so what is needed are not visionaries coming up with new visions but teachers who can teach and mobilize people around the vision of Jesus.